Some state senators want to prohibit Gov. Nikki Haley's
staff from buying junk food for the Governor's Mansion.
The Senate's state
budget plan includes a proviso, or one-year law in the budget, that prohibits
the use of taxpayers' money to buy junk food for the governor and her family at
the mansion, or for functions held there.
The governor would be able to buy
prohibited items with her own money.
Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Columbia, got the proviso put in
the budget because Gov. Haley wants to prohibit South Carolina residents who are
on food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,
or SNAP, from using taxpayers' money to buy junk food. It's part of her plan to
combat obesity in the state.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee decided that if
it's wrong to use taxpayers' money to buy junk food for those on food stamps,
it's also wrong to use taxpayers' money to buy it at the Governor's Mansion, so
the approved the proviso.
The full Senate would still have to go along, and then
the full House would also have to approve it.
But Dr. Ed Frongillo, a researcher in the Arnold School
of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, says there's no research
to back up the contention that banning junk food for those on food stamps will
cut down on obesity.
"It may be worth the effort, but in order to know
whether it's worth the effort, then there needs to be explicit research, which
shows us and tests out what actually happens when you do that," he
He says one problem with the idea is that food stamps
provide only about 30 percent of the food budget for those enrolled.
"That means that people are providing some of their own
funds from other sources for food," he says. "And so if putting restrictions on
what you can use the SNAP coupons for, if that simply means that people then
substitute other dollars for those dollars in order to buy certain foods that
are restricted, then you don't gain anything."
Governor Haley was in Texas Monday for a conference on
offshore technology, but her spokesman, Rob Godfrey, said of the proposed ban on
junk food at the mansion, "The governor is trying to tackle the obesity epidemic
in South Carolina - if State Sen. Jackson wants to play games with it, that's
his business, but we're going to keep fighting to help South Carolinians get
In order to prohibit people on food stamps from buying
junk food, the state will have to get a waiver from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. That's considered unlikely because other states that have asked for
waivers have been