Missouri Republican Tries to Ban Food Stamp Recipients From Buying Seafood or Steak

The proposed bill puts seafood and steak in the same category as non-necessity food purchases like energy drinks or soda

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

If it swims, it’s too much of a luxury for his constituents on food stamps. 

Rick Brattin, a Republican lawmaker in Missouri who has pledged to “get the food stamp program back to its original intent,” is going after SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients’ protein sources.

In a new bill submitted to the general assembly, Brattin lists a number of items that Missouri residents would not be able to purchase with food stamps, including “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steak.”

Already, Brattin’s proposal brings to mind the nefarious possibilities of Soylent, the food-replacement milkshake invented by a joyless software engineer — but we digress.

Apparently, if you need food stamps, you don’t deserve beef or fish. As you can imagine, the proposal drummed up some criticism from people who did not feel that the Republican lawmaker should be able to stop SNAP benefits from applying to protein sources that are found in oceans, or even on cattle farms.

“If the bill becomes law, a Missourian can’t buy a can of tuna with an EBT card,” wrote an op-ed author in The Washington Post. “Tortilla chips to go with salsa? Nope. Flank steak — tough, stringy and the only cut of beef I can afford — is off-limits, too. Who are these people, and what makes them think that what we eat is their business?”

Brattin subsequently attempted to clarify that he did not mean to “get rid of canned tuna and fish sticks,” but to stop SNAP benefits from being used for particular luxuries that non SNAP-reliant taxpayers might be able to afford, like, say, the classic surf and turf duo.

“I have seen people purchasing filet mignons and crab legs with their EBT cards,” said Brattin. “When I can't afford it on my pay, I don't want people on the taxpayer's dime to afford those kinds of foods either.”

That’s hard to believe — never mind the fact that Brattin, as a state legislator, is paid by the taxpayer himself — because according to the USDA, a single-person household qualifies for up to $194 a month in benefits, or $7 a day

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