In a scathing attack on Federal food policy, Maine Governor Paul LePage wants to take down big food corporations in his state.
He wants to ban people from using food stamps to buy unhealthy products like marshmallows and Mars bars. LePage has even threatened to halt Maine’s entire food stamp program if he cannot do as he wishes.
Current White House policy protects student lunches from such junk food, but not (equally dependent) people on food stamps. LePage claims that this is a bone that the White House has thrown to the junk food industry: Taxpayers will pay them to give unhealthy food to poor people rather than students.
LePage’s measure seems like a logical and excellent thing to implement into U.S. policy. Research shows that people on food stamps are more likely to be obese than the general population. Michelle Obama has launched letsmove.gov, intended to raise healthier children by focusing on healthy eating and good exercise. If this country wants to combat obesity, why is it letting its poor obese be victimized?
LePage wants to change the landscape he sees around him. Maine’s obesity and diabetes rates are increasing. LePage asked the US Department of Agriculture for a waiver to let him implement his anti-junk food measures — despite the fact that no such waiver has ever been granted. Unsurprisingly, Maine was denied.
LePage is not easily swept aside, however. He vowed “to implement reform unilaterally or cease Maine's administration of the food stamp program altogether.” This may be a little excessive, but LePage’s ideas about wanting to back up talk of healthy eating are sound. With some amazing food organizations in Maine trying to build a better food community, Maine might be the perfect laboratory for a food stamp experiment. Let’s just hope the White House wants to help adults eat healthy as much as the kids.