New York Bill Would Ban Food Stamps for Steak and Lobster

February 23, 2016 Updated: February 23, 2016

A New York lawmaker has introduced a bill that would bar people from using food stamps to purchase “luxury” food items like lobster and steak. 

The bill would restrict the types of purchases that can be made through the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It would add luxury food items like steak and lobster, as well as unhealthy items like soft drinks, cake, and candy to a list of forbidden items. 

The bill is intended to help families stretch out their supply of food stamps and buy more food instead of wasting it on luxury items, and combat obesity at the same time.

The bill is intended to help families stretch out their supply of food stamps and buy more food instead of wasting it on luxury items, and combat obesity at the same time. 

“Even certain energy drinks, which are subject to sales tax, can be purchased using taxpayer funded benefit cards. Decorated cakes are also allowed,” reads a legislative memo for the bill. “At a time when our state and nation are struggling with an obesity epidemic, it is critically
important that taxpayer funded programs help low income consumers make wise and healthy food choices.” 

This is not the first time welfare spending regulation has been tightened recently in New York. Previously in 2012, the state moved to restrict the use of welfare dollars for alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets, according to NBC NY, in compliance with new federal regulations.