Friday, February 10, 2012


                            She’s At It Again, Telling You What To Eat

Food Stamp Recipients
Taking her campaign against obesity before the Congressional Black Caucus, First Lady Michelle Obama said childhood obesity had become a national epidemic and was particularly bad in black communities.

Obama drew laughter from the black legislators in D.C. when she said, “We all need to start making some changes to how our families eat. Now, everyone loves a good Sunday dinner. Me included. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is when we eat Sunday dinner Monday through Saturday.”

This came a day after Obama called on the National Restaurant Assn. for drastic changes in  the contents, food preparation and menus of its establishments to facilitate a radical reformation of eating habits, even if that meant less business.

Anyone think that a fancy dinner wasn’t served (though, really, they always taste similar to fancy cardboard at these types of big events)? Or how about at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 33rd Annual Awards Gala at the Washington Convention Center, which the Obama’s attended last Wednesday

What kind of foods were served at the Blumenthal and DNC events PBO attended Thursday

How about at the CBC gala on Saturday, where Obama will give a speech? I wonder what the food was like during the Obama’s numerous vacations, as well as Michelle’s opulent Spain jaunt? Or all the other ritzy parties at the White House?

Let’s face it, Michelle actually does have a good idea in decreasing obesity, especially in children. Yet, she herself acts like a typical liberal hypocrite, following the “do as I say (and legislate and require), not as I do” model. 

Michelle is probably thrilled that chocolate milk has been banned in many schools, including at all public schools in D.C. and Virginia’s Fairfax county.
There is no question that children today are less active than those in times past. Video games, the Internet and satellite TV have significantly added to that trend by forcing a sedentary lifestyle, and as a result, childhood obesity is at an all time high.
What I Eat Is My Business

But the proposed action of one Mississippi lawmaker with the endorsement of the first lady has led some to believe politicians have gone too far by attempting to regulate what people eat.

Senator Bill Stone (D-MS) went public with his idea this week when he presented Senate Bill 2293, a bill that would prohibit recipients of SNAP benefits from buying candy, sugary drinks and unhealthy foods with their EBT card.

You'll get an overdose of lies and race baiting from this video

This would greatly affect the black populace in Mississippi where state officials confirmed that more than 630,000 people receive monthly benefits to purchase food items.

According to a study compiled by the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS), in September 2011, 21 percent of Mississippians were receiving monthly food stamp or SNAPbenefits. Of that ratio, 2.39 percent were Asian/Hispanic/Other, 31.53 percent where white and 66.08 percent were black.
Senator Bill Stone

Stone said the purpose of the bill is not to force healthy eating on SNAP recipients, necessarily, but to promote healthy eating for the benefit of the children.

"I know a lot of people have picked up on this bill and they dub it as politicians abusing the system," Stone said. "But this is about what's healthy for the children. That's it in a nutshell."

This was Stone's first time introducing the bill to the legislature and he said it stemmed from what he saw while standing in a checkout line in December 2011.

Currently only food items can be purchased with food stamps, but should a person be able to purchase "junk" food with food stamps? By junk food I mean, cookies, snack cakes, chips, soda. Who's to say? Some folks think red meat is deadly, others think it is an essential protein. Some folks think chocolate is a junk food, some think it's an antioxidant. 

I don't need government telling me what I can and cannot purchase. The state Department of Children and Families, which oversees the food stamp program, would have to get federal approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement the bill if it passes, which may be tricky since no other states have been successful.

The federal government spent nearly $11.6 billion last year to help about 7 million Floridians, as an increasing number are relying on the program in a sour economy. The average monthly benefit in the state is about $200 per person, according to the USDA.

How well can a person live on just $42.62 a week? For more than 47 million Americans, it's more than a matter of conjecture.

With job growth and the economy still only sputtering along, a record number of Americans have turned to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for federal food stamp program.

At the end of last year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans received food stamps, the highest rate ever. During the past two years alone, another nearly 12 million people enrolled in the program.

How much a family gets per month is determined by a number of factors, but typically ranges from less than $100 to more than $500. The national average for a family of four at the end of 2011 was $200.00 a month, or about $42.62 a week.

Despite growing dependence on food stamps, the popular impression is that the meals you can make with them are bleak.

To find out how well you can eat on food stamps, two chefs and a magazine food editor planed out seven days of meals for a family of four using that budget: $42.62.

Food stamp officials note that the program is meant to supplement a household's food budget, not be its only spending. You really have to think outside the box when you are used to creating food the way I do, it takes you back.

"I was behind this lady with a shopping basket loaded with sugary drinks, potato chips, cookies and candy," Stone said. "She had nothing of any nutritional value in her cart and when it came time for her to pay, she pulled out her EBT card and paid for it. There was no breakfast cereal, no meats, nothing but pure junk. And I thought to myself, 'we should not be paying for this junk.' We should be providing nutrition to sustain children. She's an adult. What she puts in her own body is her own business. But it's not acceptable for the children."

Johnny, the assistant manager of a grocery store in Grenada, Miss., disagreed.
Soon you can no longer buy with food stamps

"I think what he saw was probably a person, not buying food for the family, but probably a person that had a 'Mom and Pop' store,'" he said. "And yes, you do have people that abuse the system, the video above . They abuse the benefits. But my opinion on that is, once you give somebody something, you give it to them. You can't dictate what you want them to do with it. This is America. And only in America do you have freedom of speech  (well, maybe we'll get it back)- freedom of everything. When you start dictating that - you take that freedom away."

Charlie Smith, the Legislative Liaison for MDHS, said the food stamp/SNAP program is federally funded, but ultimately the money comes from taxpayers, and based on MDHS guidelines, SNAP recipients can use their monthly benefits to purchase most food items with the exception of hot foods, such as those in the deli or those that can be eaten in the store.

Other states, such as Illinois, have similar SNAP stipulations, and they allow recipients to use their EBT cards to purchase seeds and plants to grow foods in a home garden environment - as does Mississippi. 

But Smith said to his knowledge, no other states prohibit SNAP recipients from purchasing junk food. But past efforts by MDHS officials to restrict SNAP recipients in Mississippi to buying fresh fruits and vegetables, has failed before Congress.

A lot of people have said you should just have healthy food with SNAP benefits and people shouldn't be able to buy all this junk food. So we put our two-cents worth in, and if the bill tried to pass, it didn't, or I don't even know if they tried to put in.
Food Czar Michelle

Stone, one of the state's few democrats in office, said his decision was largely influenced by first lady Michelle Obama and her efforts for healthier eating and fighting childhood obesity. In fact, one of the "Five Simple Steps To Success" in Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign is for parents to "cut down on sugary drinks."

"I'm not trying to be punitive to these recipients," Stone said. "But my intent is to keep families from wasting their benefits. I'm going after foods that are obviously detrimental to children's health."

Opponents to Stone's bill, however, believe if the bill passes, it may increase crime rates or limit how much a household can buy due to the inflated costs of healthier food options such as fresh fruits and vegetables versus cheaper less healthier options.

"We don't want our vendors to raise their costs and keep recipients from buying healthy food," Stone said. "But this is one of the things in the bill we'll have to work on."

You have some people out there who do what they have to do to live, and I'd rather for someone to spend the benefits the way they want to than to be out here robbing, stealing and that kind of thing. The crime rate here is already high. And I feel like if they try to control what we eat, the crime rate is only going to go up."

"SNAP benefits are a federal program," he said. "We can't take a state law and supersede a federal law. Stone may think it's a state program, but he doesn't have the authority to change it. I think it's a good idea.

I'd be for it if we could, but we just can't do it.

Stone said if the bill passes, it would include a revision that MDHS request a waiver from the federal government to change the law. If it passes, he said it would then go to the senate floor for a vote and eventually to Mississippi's governor to veto or sign.

Stone said the deadline for revisions on the bill is the first week of March, and if signed by the governor, the law would go into effect on July 1.

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