Feds save sodas From Bloomberg

Bloomberg's soda ban for food stamps denied

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a goal of his third term in office to make his constituency as healthy as possible, in spite of themselves. He has gotten a law passed to force restaurants to place calorie counts on their menu items, and has attacked salt and sugar vigorously.

His latest attempt has run aground, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA last week denied the mayor a waiver that would have allowed the city to prevent residents from buying sugar-sweetened soft drinks with food stamps.

In denying the waiver, which would have allowed the city to set up a ban on a temporary basis, to be evaluated, the USDA stated that it “had concerns about the plans potential viability and effectiveness.” Specifically, according to an article on the Yahoo! News website, the proposal didn’t do enough to spell out which products would be affected, take into account the impact on retailers and didn’t outline well enough how the city would evaluate the ban’s effectiveness on curbing obesity.

According to the mayor’s proposal, the ban would have applied to any sweetened soft drink that contained more than 10 calories per eight ounces.

I’m of two minds when it comes to the idea of a “Nanny State” such as Bloomberg is trying to effect. On the one hand, I’m not comfortable with the government having a heavy hand in the choices I’m allowed to make as a consumer. On the other hand, as someone who does a lot of grocery shopping, I have witnessed food stamp recipients using their government benefits to make a host of unhealthy choices. I often think, “Shouldn’t you be buying more nutritious food for your children with those stamps, and use your own money for snacks and such?” Then again, I’ve never had to use food stamps or other government hand-outs, so I’ve not walked in their shoes.

The debate centers around whether the government should be allowed to control how the indigent spend the money the government gives them. Do people have a right to, in Mayor Bloomberg’s opinion, abuse their bodies and those of their children with government money? Of course, the mayor thinks not—he doesn’t even think people should be making unhealthy choices with their own money.

So, how much of a say should our elected officials have in how food stamp recipients use those vouchers? Readers, what are your thoughts?

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources