The New England state is one of several locales that have sought to keep sugary items out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which helps low-income Americans buy food. Nearly 200,000 Mainers, or roughly 15% of state residents, are on food stamps, on par with the share of Americans using the program nationally.
The federal government covers the program’s cost, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied prior requests to impose similar restrictions.
But Maine—where Republican Gov. Paul LePage has long pushed for food-stamp restrictions—sent the USDA a letter this week seeking a waiver to allow the limits specifically on candy and soda, based on how those foods are defined in its tax code. The proposal doesn’t include other sugary foods, such as cookies or ice cream.
The state said the move could help improve public health, address obesity and contain costs for Medicaid, the government health plan for the poor.