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California lawmaker wants to banish sugary drinks from CalFresh menu

February 4, 2013 |  8:00 am

California Legislature.JPEG–06cbc
Californians who get help under CalFresh, the food stamps program, may soon be put on a diet by state lawmakers, who are considering barring use of the benefits to buy sugary sodas and other fattening beverages.

State Sen. Michael J. Rubio (D-East Bakersfield) introduced legislation that proposes to modify the list of allowable food items that can be purchased under CalFresh to exclude many sweetened beverages containing more than 10 calories per cup.

“With the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the Central Valley and throughout California, SB 134 is simply the first step in trying to reverse this alarming trend, particularly among children," Rubio said.

He said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "reports that over 20% of Californians are obese, but could well exceed 45% if trends continue."

Although administered by the state, CalFresh is paid for by the federal government, so the California Department of Social Services would have to get Washington’s approval before it can banish Coke and Pepsi from the program. Rubio argues the change will save taxpayers money because the health costs associated with obesity are a drain on the state.


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Photo: State Sen. Michael Rubio (D-East Bakersfield) stretches during a lull in the legislative action at the Capitol last year. He wants CalFresh recipients to have more healthy drinks. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press.