Republican legislators in Wisconsin have thought of a new way of tormenting poor people: say they can have food stamps but ban ALL THE FOODS.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin Republicans in the statehouse took the first step in their agenda to punish people who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Assembly Bill 177 seeks to ban people who rely on food stamps to survive on a daily basis from buying a huge list of products deemed unworthy for the mouths of poor people and their children.

The legislation specifically bans poor people from buying any kind of shellfish, including lobster, shrimp, and crab.

Too fancy! Too fancy for the likes of poor people who have low wages because rich people like it that way. No shrimp for you, peasant.

It disallows red and yellow potatoes but allows sweet potatoes and yams. It also disallows nuts, trail mix, herbs and seasonings.

No jarred spaghetti sauce for poor folks, or soups, salsa, or ketchup. No canned beans, except for green, wax or yellow beans.

No canned beans? Wtf?

The list of “disallowed” foods, which you can view here, also includes the following:

  • Cranberry sauce and pie filling. (Poor people can forget about making dessert for Thanksgiving dinner.)
  • Creamed vegetables
  • Baked beans
  • Pickles
  • Pork and beans
  • Frozen veggies that come in packages featuring pasta, nuts, rice, cheese, or meats
  • French fries and hash browns
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, Swiss, and fresh mozzarella, shredded and sliced cheeses (except American cheese of course), cheese food, spreads, and products. Even Kosher cheese is banned unless you apply to get a specific check for it which basically could identify who the poor Jewish people are.
  • Canned peas and green beans
  • Albacore tuna, red salmon, and fish fillets
  • Bagels, pita bread, English muffins
  • White rice and wild rice
  • Taco shells
  • Almond, rice, goat, and soy milk.
  • Brown eggs and any eggs produced by cage-free or free range chickens, which basically helps corporate chicken farms
  • Several kinds of infant food
  • Anything in bulk
  • Anything organic or natural

Well they can still have brioche.


  1. yazikus says

    What the ever living fuck. No cage free eggs? No non-dairy beverages? No fucking canned beans!?!?! I can’t imagine a more harmful or stupid waste of legislator time than putting this shitty, shitty bill together.

    When I was young, I worked in a grocery store that had a promotion thingy that involved customers getting a number of tickets for a certain amount of money spent. Every so often one of those tickets was a $40 coupon. If the customer didn’t want it, sometimes it was left to the discretion of the checker to pass it out. I gave it to one of the homeless guys who came in to redeem his cans every day. As I did so, several people made snide comments, gave me dirty looks and otherwise clearly disapproved of this choice. They were sure he would spend it on booze (and you know what? who cares if he would have). However, he showed back up in line a little later with a cart of groceries and several deli hot items. It turns out he wanted to have lunch with his grandson.

    I guess I’m in the ever shrinking group of people who believe that food is an entitlement. Even cage free food. Even shell-fish food. People are entitled to food.

  2. says

    Bagels, pita bread, English muffins

    Not even day old stuff on discount.

    White rice and wild rice

    Cheap and nutritious? Nope, not allowed.

    rice, goat, and soy milk.

    Poor people are not allowed to have allergies and intolerances. Either that, or the clowns want people to die from allergies and intolerances, hence why peanut butter is still allowed (but not the healthier low-fat kind which costs the same as commercial brands).

    Several kinds of infant food

    This from the people who want to make abortion illegal. They only care about foetuses, not babies.

    Anything in bulk

    Small wonder those clowns can’t run a government budget. They don’t even understand the concept of “cheaper by the dozen”.

    Forcibly testing people for drugs didn’t work because the poor don’t buy drugs. So now they’re trying to kick people off the welfare rolls by creating rules that are difficult or impossible to understand and follow. Buy one piece of food on the “prohibited list”, and you get nothing.

    Stuff like this makes me wish there were a hell for them to burn in.

  3. Blanche Quizno says

    I was on WIC for a few years. They allow *dry* beans. While lentils and split peas are easy to cook, the other kinds of beans have quite a complicated preparation procedure. If you follow the “quick cooking” instructions for kidney beans, like to get them ready for a batch of chili, they come out about the consistency of peanuts. And soaking overnight/cooking for hours requires quite a lot more time and increases utility expenses, of course,

    But back then (late 1990s), they still covered brown eggs, though they only allowed brand name (like Kraft) block cheese – so no shredded cheese (a huge time-saver) even if the store brand ended up costing *less* than the name brand. One of the cereal brands approved for WIC was Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats; almost every time I bought some with my WIC vouchers, the cashier gave me a hard time and delay-delay-delayed (increasing my discomfort and shame as the line stacked up behind me), because we all know that po’ folk don’t deserve frosting. Dry bread crusts and water for you, povs, and make sure you express just how deeply you appreciate this undeserved generosity from your social betters.

  4. iknklast says

    People have been claiming for a long time that healthy foods are out of the price range of the poor; the government just wants to make sure that’s true. Many of those foods (such as beans, canned or otherwise) are good sources of nutrition, and some of them really aren’t that expensive. And I don’t see any sign that they are banning potato chips which truly are expensive when considered pound for pound, and aren’t healthy (I’m not saying they should; I never bought them when I was on food stamps because I couldn’t afford them, but people need to make their own food choices).

    And like Blanche says, buying with food stamps can be devastating. The cashier would examine every one of my purchases with so much care and consideration, while everyone else behind me in the line would crane their necks to make sure I wasn’t buying anything I “shouldn’t”. It probably would have been worse if I were not white.

  5. says

    Dry beans are much cheaper than canned ones. It doesn’t cost that much fuel to cook them (it takes an hour on low heat, not hours plural) and you get 4 or 5 times what’s in a can. But that’s not a reason for legislators to decide people on food stamps have to buy dry not canned, especially not if you treat time as a cost.

  6. quixote says

    (Ophelia @6: not really. It depends. Some peas may take an hour, but if you want, say, red beans or navy beans those take hours. Or do you mean pressure-cooking? And then there’s the old trick of soaking overnight, bringing them to a boil, and wrapping in a towel or two for another night. But if they want you to eat beans without any herbs or seasonings? Cardboard with enough salt would be better.)

  7. luzclara says

    what a bunch of shits those representatives of the people are. . . this is mortifying.
    quite right, this is super-grande 100% whole sadism.

  8. Blanche Quizno says

    I’ve cooked the dry beans. You’re describing the “quick” method; that leaves the beans the consistency of peanuts, not soft like canned, the texture most people are accustomed to. Most people find the “peanut” texture unacceptable – I took some to a new WIC mom I knew to show her how they turned out with the “quick” method, and she said, “These taste like they aren’t cooked enough.”

    On the plus side, in the summer, WIC issued several certificates that could be used to buy fresh produce at the Farmers’ Market. That was nice 🙂

    But considering how people who receive assistance are now required to work, it really does look sadistic and punitive to allow only the most time-consuming to prepare foods, when a somewhat processed product, like shredded cheese, was cheaper. This is the result of more corporate welfare – the government has contracts with Kraft and the other major name-brand producers, so their more expensive products are approved (sending our tax dollars into the pockets of the large corporations), even though the target population, poor women with children, would be better served with the store-brand shredded cheese for cheaper. Remember, this was WIC – vouchers, not food stamps. You had to buy the exact name brands listed (like Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats or Cheerios) – it wasn’t like you could just shop for the cheapest available box of cereal. It HAD to be name brand and only certain products. This is a down-home example of the corporate welfare that passes for charitable aid abroad – “tied aid” that can only be used to purchase corporate partners’ products. Though I’ve been aware of tied aid for some years now, it was only just now I realized that WIC was more of the same O_O

  9. Blanche Quizno says

    @7 Quixote, just as with the “food stamp challenge”, the idea is not that you are restricted to eating only what you can purchase for $XX/week and nothing else. The assumption is that you will have a refrigerator and some means of cooking, along with enough pots and pans for basic food preparation, for starters. Even with $XX/week, a person might buy the 40-tortilla economy pack one week, keeping them in the fridge for the next coupla weeks, for example, instead of just buying enough food to last that week and not a day longer. Same with cooking oil – a large bottle of oil will last quite a while, so you don’t need to buy it every week. So yeah, one week you could use your food budget to buy, say, salt and pepper (very inexpensive), a cheap yellow onion, and a pound of butter – voila, seasoning for your beans for weeks to come. I’m not saying that dry beans are necessarily a BAD thing, but if you haven’t grown up with preparing them from dry, that can be kind of a challenge, as you don’t know how to get them to what you’re accustomed to (the consistency of canned). Still, lentils and split peas are easy and delicious – at least those are included on the list. So there ARE ways to get around the difficulties – just avoid the red/kidney/etc. beans; put the mozzerella in the freezer and when you thaw it, it will practically crumble apart (not as nice as shredded, but usable); and making batches of peanut butter cookies to get rid of the peanut butter that our family of 4 could not eat fast enough to keep from piling up numerous jars!

    That said, I would not expect people getting food assistance to have pressure cookers!

  10. says

    quixote and Blanche you guys must be using a different kind of beans from the kind I use. Kidney, white, black, garbanzo – they all cook in around an hour if you’ve soaked them overnight. No they’re not like peanuts. Sure you can cook them longer to make them mushier, but maybe half an hour, not multiple hours.

    Maybe you always forgot to soak them…

  11. says

    And I’m not talking about the quick method, if you mean what you do if you’ve forgotten to soak them overnight, which is to boil them for x minutes (2? 10? I forget) and then let them soak for 2 hours and then cook them. Not very quick at all.

  12. Robert, not Bob says

    Looks like the object is to encourage stores to stop taking food stamps at all by making the process fiendishly overcomplicated. No doubt, as with abortion, they’d be happy to simply eliminate food stamps directly, but lack the political power to do so-yet.

  13. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I suggest a pressure cooker. It will thoroughly cook dry beans in 45 minutes.

  14. carlie says

    I can’t soak beans for crap – I follow the directions exactly, but sometimes they still come out with little hard nubbins in the middle of each bean (and that’s with precooking, and soaking overnight, and cooking for hours, etc. etc.). When that happens, they are inedible. The whole lot ends up needing to be thrown out, along with anything else that went in the dish (unless I want to strain it and re-use the sauce). It’s more potential waste than using canned, esp. if you’re unfamiliar with doing it.

  15. anat says

    OK, beans. Ever since we went vegetarian we have been eating lots of beans of many kinds. We often sprout them (in part because sprouting increases the activity of some metabolic pathways in the bean, usually resulting in higher vitamin content, but really because we are lazy). 1 cup of dry legume of choice in water, change the water twice a day until you get around to cooking. By which time the beans have for the most part softened significantly and really don’t require much cooking time. We usually use them to make curries or stews. A batch feeds the husband and myself for several days (depends on how much other stuff got added) so we never need to cook more than twice a week. (The child doesn’t like these foods, they eat other stuff.) There is often something soaking around on the counter, waiting for the previous batch of stew/curry to be eaten.

  16. says

    The liquor w/canned beans I use as an ingredient for “bean stews”, basically veggies and beans.

    Bean stew:

    Par cook/ stir fry veggies. (Down and dirty: use 2 packs frozen mixed.)
    Add Kuners™ Southwestern Style black beans. Don’t drain!

    Three lunches (for the single guy) for $5.
    What the fuck? No ketchup? Really? I’m no fan, but it’s what kids want. Why do you hate children?

    I can guarantee you there is ketchup in the houses of every last one of these shitheads. These are seriously deranged control-freaks that would attempt to deny children such a thing because ideology.

    Here are the names of some of the shitheads:
    Introduced by Representatives R. Brooks, Brandtjen, Allen,
    Czaja, Gannon, Horlacher, Kerkman, Knodl, Kremer, Nygren, Rohrkaste
    and Petersen, cosponsored by Senators Marklein and Nass.
    May they go down in history as despicable human beings.

  17. anat says

    But regardless of our family’s success with cooking pulses, having the government micromanage which foods poor people can buy is just infuriating. Either just give them the damn food or give them the damn money/stamps and let them figure out how they’d rather spend it. Don’t play mind games with them.

  18. says

    @ anat

    It disallows red and yellow potatoes

    Yah, micro-management is an understatement. Pickles? The most harmless yummy food on the planet? No pickles, no ketchup, no mustard…spam on stale bread (no bagels) or nothing?

    You know what is most galling? The pretend game of “we care about nutrition”.

  19. ShowMetheData says

    “Anything in bulk”

    So the cheapest foods are banned.

    Let them eat the packaging

  20. says

    When cooking dried beans, to test for doneness, squish a (cooled down) bean with your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Any grainyness means it is not done cooking. The “squish” should be smooth like peanut butter.

  21. jufulu says

    Have these jerks never heard of buying on sale. They made very sure to list a lot of food, but most of that can be bought on sale quite easily. F’n jerks.

  22. Sili says

    But back then (late 1990s), they still covered brown eggs

    Errr? They don’t cover brown eggs now?

  23. opposablethumbs says

    What kind of a person do you have to be to want to make long and detailed lists of exactly what poor people must not have. Jesus. A person who wants this level of micromanagement wants workhouses, and they probably want to keep the toilets locked too. Sadism with a pious smile.

  24. says

    People saying “but what about [cheap and nutritious item]” are missing the point. This isn’t a flawed attempt at encouraging people to each healthily and cheaply. It’s a deliberate and well executed attempt to punish and humiliate the vulnerable. It’s designed to turn food shopping into a humiliating ordeal, where people are forced to follow pointless rules, and continually told “this food is for proper people, not worthless filth like you”.

  25. octopod says

    Yeah, hyperdeath has it. This is bullying, that’s all; there is no other conceivable point.

    (No white rice? No seasonings? Jesus Christ, what the hell, are you kidding me?)

  26. lorn says

    It’s all perrrfectly understandable.

    Consider that the motivation behind drug testing for welfare recipients was never really about keeping them off drugs. The motivation was:

    1) To cut the amount of money going to welfare recipients by forcing every one of them to pay for, out of their benefits, regular drug tests. It is a tax on the poor justified because ‘it is for their own good’.

    2) To provide a mechanism for the exclusion of people from the program. False positives, incidental contact, and an option to play the system against poor people.

    3) Profit. All administration, testing, and documentation are handled by private for-profit corporations. Every dollar of which is taxpayer’s money intended to go to poor people handed to a corporation and investors.

    Rules, in this case rules about what people can and cannot buy, imply enforcement, and sanctions against those who break the rules. Enforcement and sanction imply bureaucracy. Bureaucracy, particularly privately run and regulated bureaucracy always comes at a cost. The tab being picked up by the food stamps system itself. The feature/bug is that this also means fewer dollars going to poor people, and more dollars going to private industry.

    This is a very popular theme and mechanism for people who seek to weaken and destroy the social safety net to exploit. Another good example is the way the system is run through Wells Fargo and they heap on costs, like checking on how much remains in the account and extracting the exorbitant charge for that nearly free to execute service from the account. It is not uncommon, especially with clients with memory difficulties, to expend a significant amount of their benefits just finding out how much remains.

  27. Pierce R. Butler says

    Last time I checked (last week), sharp cheddar cost the same per pound as bland.

    Nor would I ever have expected Wisconsin legislators to do anything that might block cheese sales.

    And brown eggs just come from particular breeds of chicken, with nutritional/taste factors depending only on the chicken’s diet.

    The only redeeming factor I can see in any of this: Florida’s legislature has already adjourned, so can’t pick up this ball and run with it until their next session. Unfortunately, they bobbled the budget process and will probably come back in a “special” session within weeks.

  28. Onamission5 says

    If this was about health, rather than making grocery shopping impossibly difficult and humiliating* for poor people, low sodium products, low carb, sugar free, and gluten free products would be allowed. People with heart disease, diabetes, and celiac still need to eat.

    *Ever had your groceries confiscated at the register because you forgot or misinterpreted one of the rules, or had to ask the checker to void your entire purchase while you left the line to go find an approved substitute for your item? Social penalties are so awesome.

  29. says

    hyperdeath (#30) –

    People saying “but what about [cheap and nutritious item]” are missing the point. This isn’t a flawed attempt at encouraging people to each healthily and cheaply. It’s a deliberate and well executed attempt to punish and humiliate the vulnerable. It’s designed to turn food shopping into a humiliating ordeal, where people are forced to follow pointless rules,

    Without being confrontational, I’d say you’re missing the point. Those “rules” aren’t only written to humiliate the poor. They’re designed to be incomprehensible and too difficult to follow. When someone eventually does “break the rules” by making frugal decisions, it will be used as a pretext for kicking the person off welfare.

    Bean counting sociopath: “You bought this prohibited food!”

    Victim of inhumanity: “But it was cheaper than the approved item!”

    Bean counting sociopath: “That doesn’t matter! You don’t get assistance any more.”

  30. quixote says

    Somehow I doubt these rules have anything to do with the poor at all. I doubt these jerks-who-give-sadists-a-bad-name have any clue what life is like for the poor. They don’t even see them.

    What the legislators do see is the headline in their home district newspaper: “Welfare Moms Spend Our Taxes On Gourmet Food,” followed by the lede, “Dinner for Roseannadanna Whayster was goat cheese and wild-caught tuna.”

    And they and their voters also see taxes as something that ought to be paid purely by someone else and only for things that benefit them, like mortgage interest deductions.

    The fact that it’s bad for poorer people and, what’s more, wastes money is just a “Too bad, so sad” thing to them.

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