Federal officials on Friday rejected Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to bar New York City’s food stamp users from buying soda and other sugary drinks with their benefits.
In October, the city proposed a two-year experiment to see if the prohibition would reduce obesity among people who buy their groceries with food stamps. But in a letter Friday, an administrator of the food stamp program in Washington said the city’s proposed experiment would have been “too large and complex” to implement and evaluate.
Tom Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, said in a statement that the United States Department of Agriculture “has a longstanding tradition of supporting and promoting incentive-based solutions that are better suited for the working families, elderly and other low-income individuals” who rely on food stamps. “We are confident that we can solve the problem of obesity and promote good nutrition and health for all Americans and stand ready to work with New York City to achieve these goals.”
The city’s proposal was part of Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign to make the city a healthier place, which has included banning smoking indoors and in public parks, barring restaurants from cooking with trans fats and requiring them to inform customers about calorie counts.
The mayor was not pleased with the rejection on Friday.
“We think our innovative pilot would have done more to protect people from the crippling effects of preventable illnesses like diabetes and obesity than anything else being proposed elsewhere in this country — and at little or no cost to taxpayers,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. “We’re disappointed that the federal government didn’t agree, and sorry that families and children may suffer from their unwillingness to explore our proposal. New York City will continue to pursue new and unconventional ways to combat the health problems that hurt New Yorkers and Americans from coast to coast.”
Feds Rule That Sodas & Sugary Drinks Must Be Provided Under Food Stamps
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