DHEC holds forum on possible food stamp program changes - FOX Carolina 21

DHEC holds forum on possible food stamp program changes

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The people at Thursday night's forum on South Carolina's State Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, were from every walk of life - some on the state's food stamp program, some not.

But they all had an opinion on the direction SNAP should go.

"Labeling foods as good and bad is subjective, even cultural," said Tammy Hart.

Cynthia Chance said, "I really think education is the biggest thing we can do."

"We need to change the school menus and take the french fries and pizzas out of them," said Greenville City Councilwoman Lillian Flemming. "We need to limit the zoning of fast-food places."

They all wanted to give their input, and the state was more than willing to listen.

DHEC and the Department of Social Services are looking at changing the program to meet a growing problem - they told the people in attendance that 30 percent of the state's children are obese.

The state's plan would not allow sugary products to be bought on SNAP, which is equivalent to an EBT or food stamp program in other states.

Some welcomed the idea.

"If folks are dependent on the state to purchase their food, the state has that right to decide what they're going to buy for you," said Tony Gilliard.

But others didn't warm up to the idea, like Sharmelika Burnside.

"This is not a communist country," she said.

State officials said the opinions they heard Thursday were consistent with what they were already hearing.

"I believe we are hearing similar things and we are hearing a lot of different things, and the purpose of that forum was to really gain that input," said Lillie Hall with DHEC Upstate.

Throughout the forum, there was a universal theme by those who opposed any changes - they say simply living and staying healthy isn't cheap.

"There's just a lack of evidence that this strategy will actually reduce consumption of sodas and candy bars," said Katie Smith with the Piedmont Health Foundation.

The state said the opinions will be taken to officials, who will make a decision on whether to change SNAP later this year.

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