HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Governor Nikki Haley and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control are conducting a series of forums to gather input from the public on what foods should be removed from, or remain on the state's Supplemental Nutrition Program list of eligible foods.
In February, Governor Nikki Haley and health leaders proposed the idea of curbing obesity by limiting the number of fatty foods allowed to be purchased with food stamps. Most people agree that something must be done to fight obesity, but many believe there is a better solution.
"I go to the store and literally tear up because, 'no, I can't buy this, no I can't buy that', it's too much money," said Sue Singleton, a SNAP recipient.
The vast majority of the conversation in the Richland County Council chambers on March 21 was against the idea of limiting the types of food allowed with SNAP.
"What makes the most people sick in South Carolina?" said Catherine Templeton, Department of Health and Environmental Control Director. "What, if we prevent it, would save the state the most money in treatment in South Carolina? What's best for South Carolina? What should we be paying attention to? Guess what the answer is. Obesity, obesity, obesity."
A press release from the DHEC says today, two out of three South Carolinians are overweight or obese. Obesity is a major contributor to the diseases that kill the most people in our state, make the most people sick, and cost our state the most money to treat. The DHEC says research shows that by making better food choices, South Carolinians can prevent obesity and the deadly health problems that come with it.
Jessica Grant is against the idea of making the changes to SNAP. "You can't just say we're going to take away cookies, we're going to take away doughnuts and that's just going to make everyone healthy and fight obesity."
According to DHEC, more than 878,000 South Carolinians participate in SNAP, and receive cash benefits of $1.4 billion per year. Right now, the list of eligible food items available for purchase under SNAP includes almost all consumable products regardless of nutritional value. SC seeks to update the SNAP eligible foods list to better reflect the health needs of the state.
The community can share opinions at a meeting Thursday at the Pee Dee Mental Health Center in Florence on Thursday Evening. Other meetings will be held in Greenville and North Charleston in the following weeks