A group of Delaware legislators want residents who receive SNAP benefits to make healthier choices with their grocery purchases.
More than 150,000 Delaware residents benefit from SNAP assistance, commonly known as food stamps, to purchase groceries. That makes up about one-sixth of the state population. Now, State Rep. Tim Dukes, a Republican who represents Laurel, is one of several lawmakers sponsoring the “Delaware Nutritional Improvement Act.”
“This is really about making Delawareans healthy,” Dukes said. “If you improve public health, it’s obvious that they’re going to feel better, they’re going to be better. We’re going to reduce obesity and hopefully encourage exercise through better nutrition.”
The plan would restrict food purchases made through the SNAP program to encourage healthier choices. Supporters say the restrictions would be similar to the way the state currently administers the Women, Infants, and Children Program, also known as WIC.
SNAP benefits are paid with federal funds, but the money is administered by the state. Any change to the SNAP program would require a waiver from the USDA. To date, no such waiver has been approved.
While the changes would require federal approval, some lawmakers are suggesting that the adjustments could have other benefits.
As many SNAP recipients are also eligible for Medicaid, state Rep. Daniel Short, a Republican who represents Seaford, said the change in SNAP-eligible products could improve public health and reduce expenses paid by Medicaid.
“I think it all plays together with what we’re trying to do, which is cut down on people that might have major illnesses because of their diet and their habits, and encourage them to buy healthy,” Short said. “It’s not a hard thing to do.”