DE's SNAP Program May Get Menu Makeover - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

DE's SNAP Program May Get Menu Makeover

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DELAWARE - Food stamps, now called the "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program" or SNAP, may be getting a few more options in Delaware.

This week, state lawmakers are proposing a bill that could change the eating habits for thousands of Delawareans, and some say it's for the better.

The Delaware Nutritional Improvement Act was announced Wednesday, and it would ask the state's Department of Heath and Social Services to expand access to healthier foods.

The menu makeover would put the SNAP program more in line with the WIC program, one that designates specific, healthy foods that are eligible for purchase through the government program.

"It would help a person really focus on nutrition versus filling a stomach," said State Rep. Tim Dukes, a bill sponsor. "That they're really thinking about their personal health."     

Dukes says this bill isn't necessarily about choosing one food over another, but rather asks the government to realign what consumers are able to access.

However, he says there could be some foods removed from the list.  

"I'm sure that the real sugary foods would be taken out," Dukes said. "It would help a person really focus on nutrition versus filling a stomach."

Delaware recently ranked third in the nation in obesity, and with 17 percent of Delaware on SNAP - more than 150,000 people - 17 percent of the overall population - the bill is an effort to put Delaware on track for a healthier future.

"I think what we're recognizing is that there's such a huge need in our state," Dukes said. "With that many people dependent on our program, they tend to be the most vulnerable people in our state."

He adds that many of those who receive SNAP are also eligible for Medicaid, a program that costs the state $750 million annually. He says better nutrition would be a benefit to all taxpayers.

But some don't think government regulation is the way to do it.

"I feel like the government shouldn't regulate what we eat, because they don't know what we need in our houses," Gary Lewis said. "So they shouldn't have a say so in the things we can buy."

Shopper Trish Adkins agrees.

"I think everybody has their own eating habits and I think people should be able to buy what they want to buy in the grocery store," Adkins said.

Dukes adds that the Delaware Nutritional Improvement Act goes along with Governor Markell's plan to keep the First State active; It's invested 2.7 million dollars on bike paths for biking and walking.

The bill will be filed in the assembly next week.

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