Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is urging Congress against cutting food stamps in the upcoming farm bill.
But a letter the mayor signed also asks federal lawmakers to bar recipients from buying sodas and other sugary beverages.
The House is expected to vote on the legislation this week with the $80 billion Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, at the center of the debate. Republicans are pushing for $4 billion in cuts, but Democrats argue that could kick up to 2 million recipients off the food stamp rolls.
On Tuesday Fischer joined over a dozen other mayors in saying Congress should do more to combat obesity and create incentives for food stamp recipients to buy more fruits and vegetables.
Among those who signed the letter were New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pushed to ban soda drinks in large sizes before a court ruling nixed the plan.
“Congress should direct the USDA to test policies that support healthful food choices and reduce consumption of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that threaten the health of many Americans,” the letter reads.
In a statement, however, Fischer emphasized his opposition to the proposed cuts and bypassed any comment on banning certain non-alcoholic beverages.
“My concerns—and the reason I signed the letter to Congress — are the 130,715 families in Louisville who rely on the SNAP program to help feed their families. I am very concerned that, with the proposed cuts in the program, it would have a significant negative impact on the mothers and fathers who need assistance to feed themselves and their children,” he says.
The city has been combating the lack of healthy food access for several years, and food deserts remain a problem in its West End and east downtown neighborhoods. A recent report conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine ranked Louisville as one of unhealthiest cities in the county in terms of obseity rates and smoking.
Fischer went out to say the city has been “working diligently to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved neighborhoods” as efforts to tackle Louisville’s food deserts continue.