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Bill would change way food stamp money could be spent

Author of bill wants to reduce junk-food purchases made with taxpayer dollars

MADISON, Wis. - A Senate committee held a public hearing on a bill that would change the way food stamp recipients could spend the money.

The Republican-backed Assembly bill (AB 110) passed the Assembly last May.

The bill would require Food Share recipients to spend two-thirds of their benefits on certain items. The goal is to reduce junk-food purchases.

Critics said it would be costly to implement, and that it doesn't solve the obesity issue.

"To focus an obesity prevention strategy on the diet of Food Share participants, stigmatizes and places blame of an American problem on the poor," said Matt Stienstra, with the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee. "AB 110 will waste the taxpayer's dollars, increase bureaucracy and stigmatize those shopping for groceries with Food Share who will be unable to choose what they purchase and eat."

The bill's author said it's about saving money now and lives later.

"I think it's common sense to make sure that we help those who are truly in need in our communities, while at the same time helping people eat better," Rep. Dean Kauffert, R-Neenah, said. "I don't want to tell people how to spend their own money, but I think it is OK to ask people to spend taxpayer dollars more wisely and prudently."

If it becomes law, the state will need federal approval to make the changes.

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