Congressman Rice Introduces Nutritious Options for Meals Act

Bill Reins In SNAP Eligible Items, Nearly Mirroring WIC

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC-07) has introduced the Nutritious Options for Meals Act of 2015, H.R. 2383, legislation to tailor eligible items for purchase under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  H.R. 2383 returns SNAP to its original intent: to provide healthy, nutritious food for Americans in need. 

Unlike the first food stamp program implemented in 1939, SNAP today has few restrictions on eligible items.  Recipients can buy almost anything except tobacco and alcohol products, as well as hot meals (with exceptions).  A similar United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), offers nutritious food choices to keep recipients healthy.   Nutritious Options for Meals Act applies WIC nutrition standards to SNAP with the addition of lean meat and poultry.  SNAP beneficiaries may use their benefits for healthy items such as vegetables, fruits, milk, juice, whole grain cereal, eggs, peanut butter, legumes, whole grain bread, lean meat, and poultry. 

“The original food stamp program was a good, common sense program,” said Rice.  “It paired nutritious farm surpluses with Americans in need.  Over the years, the nutrition portion of food stamps has become obsolete.  Today, beneficiaries can use taxpayer dollars to purchase nearly anything in the grocery store.  Meanwhile, families barely living over the poverty threshold are pinching pennies and clipping coupons to make ends meet. 

“Furthermore, our country is more health conscious than it’s ever been,” continued Rice.  “Even fast food establishments are revamping their menus with healthier items.  Sadly, obesity is still on the rise and the only way to curb this trend is by changing what we eat.  While independent Americans have the right to purchase what they want to eat, taxpayer-funded food programs should follow nutritious standards to keep recipients healthy and able to transition off government assistance.”

This legislation amends the food definition for SNAP only, Section 3(k)(1) in the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.  The provisions allowing hot meals to be served to the elderly and disabled remain untouched.  Additionally, the provision that allows the purchase of seeds and plants to produce food is also untouched. 

The following members of Congress have co-sponsored Rice’s legislation: Rep. Rod Blum, Rep. Dave Brat, Rep. Bradley Byrne, Rep. Paul Cook, Rep. Walter Jones, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Rep. Tom McClintock, Rep. Candice Miller, Rep. Alexander Mooney, Rep. Robert Pittenger, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. David Schweikert, Rep. Peter Roskam, Rep. Randy Weber.