Chew on This: Should Food Stamp Recipients Have Their Shopping Lists Limited?

One Maine Democrat said his party would be willing to consider a new plan, after effectively squelching LePage’s last proposal, as long as the new ideas were fresh — following our food theme — and not a “regurgitation” of last year’s effort.

The Kansas Legislature has approved a proposal that would limit the amount of money a welfare recipient could withdraw from an ATM every day to just $25.

Opponents argued that created an unfair hardship. They pointed out most people on welfare don’t have bank accounts, so they have to withdraw hundreds of dollars at at time to pay their rent.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients in Kansas would also not be allowed to withdraw money from ATMs or spend that money in movie theaters, nail salons, pools and spas, liquor stores, jewelry stores, casinos or racing facilities, tattoo and piercing parlors, or cruise ships.

Of course there are not many cruise ships docked in Kansas, but Democrats argued prohibiting the use of ATMs at the other locations would be a hardship because most TANF recipients don’t have bank accounts.

The legislation would also stop TANF recipients from spending government money on alcohol, cigarettes, concert tickets, psychics or fortune tellers, and theme park tickets.

It would be a mistake to assume politicians who want to placate constituents angered by tax dollars spent on welfare, or those who want to punish welfare recipients, are alone in pushing for new welfare-food regulations.

Health and nutrition experts have consistently called for federal prohibitions on spending SNAP or TANF money on sugary soft drinks or food with little nutritional value.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has always rejected those proposals, citing a lack of scientific evidence proving those restrictions would benefit SNAP recipients.

That could change later this year. Those who want to impose stricter regulations on food and beverages purchased with food stamps may soon be able to cite scientific as well as political reasons for their beliefs.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which describes itself as the largest philanthropic organization in the nation dedicated solely to health, is in the final stages of a study of the impact of imposing food regulations on welfare recipients.

The study began in February 2014 and is scheduled to end in July.

Researchers are studying SNAP-eligible, low-income households in an effort to figure out the impact of food regulations and whether there are any better policy options.

The Research Triangle Institute, in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, is paying for the study.