Ken Taylor shares concern over Food Share bill

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Ken Taylor shares concern over Food Share bill

Premiere Date: 
May 9, 2013

Ken Taylor expresses concern over a bill that restricts food stamp purchases.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Zac Schultz:

As you might imagine, there are plenty of groups opposed to this bill. Joining me now is Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. Ken, thanks for being here.

Ken Taylor:

Thanks for having me.

Zac Schultz:

What's your biggest concern about this idea?

Ken Taylor:

Our biggest concern is that healthy eating and health and obesity is a statewide, nationwide challenge. 70% of Wisconsinites, adults, are obese or overweight. And so it's a society-wide challenge. And we think that singling out low-income folks for restricting their food choices is not the right approach to go about a society-wide challenge.

Zac Schultz:

There are some people that make the argument, though, this is a place to start, and that taxpayer dollars are paying for some families to eat poorly, which will lead to health problems that taxpayer dollars will likely be paying to fix their health problems later in life.

Ken Taylor:

When you look at the research about what families actually spend with Foodshare, it turns out that less than 10% of their purchases are what we would call junk food. So less than 10% is for soda and snacks. And so this bill, which requires that at least two-thirds of it be spent on healthy foods, isn't really going to make a big difference because that's-- The vast majority of families are already meeting that threshold.

Zac Schultz:

Now, what do you think about the motion to prevent local governments from banning large sodas, the so-called Michael Bloomberg Law? Is it hypocritical for Republicans to pass that bill at the same time they're pushing this one?

Ken Taylor:

To us it seems inconsistent. You know, the quote that we see about not restricting food choices and giving people the option to have a super size soda and popcorn at the movie theater seems very inconsistent with this other proposal that we're restricting food choices.

Zac Schultz:

Do you think they'll get a federal waiver? Representative Kaufert mentioned that Michelle Obama, she'll be for this and she'll get the waiver.

Ken Taylor:

Well, the federal government hasn't done,  hasn't approved, waivers like this in the past. That doesn't mean that they can't change their minds. But when these sorts of proposals have gone forward to try to restrict food choices, they haven't been proven to be effective when they've tried to do it and the federal government hasn't approved any of the waivers so far.

Zac Schultz:

Now, the fiscal estimate for this bill is around a quarter million dollars for the state and an untold amount at this point for the grocery stores to set up on their end. Where would you rather see that kind of money spent, if the state has it to do this?

Ken Taylor:

Well, we think that there's three things that we could do that would really have an effect on the health of Wisconsin's residents, and one is around education about healthy food choices. A second is about access to high-quality, healthy food, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Many different in food deserts where that's not available. And third would be to create incentives, as opposed to restrictions, incentives to have healthier food choices and to purchase those.

Zac Schultz:

Very quickly, do you think at least this bill is a way to get a conversation started about this issue?

Ken Taylor:

Well, clearly you and I are having this conversation, so there is a conversation started. We think it's a much broader conversation than just targeting low-income residents of Wisconsin.

Zac Schultz:

All right. Ken Taylor, thanks for joining us. We appreciate your time.

Ken Taylor:

Thank you.


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