Stop Allowing Soda and Energy Drink Purchases With Food Stamps

Target: Lynne Saxton, Director of Oregon Health Authority

Goal: Ban the purchase of unhealthy energy drinks and soda with EBT cards.

Back in 2013 the USDA announced that energy drinks were now eligible to be purchased with SNAP/EBT/Food Stamp cards. Despite knowing how radically unhealthy energy drinks are for you and the amount of evidence that has been presented proving these facts, the USDA still deemed them eligible for purchase by EBT users. Sugary drinks such as soda and energy drinks are one of the number one contributors to health problems in America today. Allowing our most downtrodden Americans to buy them with their only source of food income is a disgrace. It’s time to demand that Oregon take the first step in showing the USDA that energy drinks and soda are not acceptable for purchase with food stamps.

The purpose of governmental assistance programs is to assist our citizens who are in the need of the most help, not enable them in poisoning themselves. With the USDA announcing that energy drinks can be bought by food stamp holders as long as they have “the right label,” the government is sending a clear message that they would rather enable their citizens in destroying their bodies than show an interest in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Not only are energy drinks, sugary sodas, and junk food allowed to be purchased with an EBT card, there is no limit on how much you can buy. As long as you have cash on your EBT card, you can get any number of toxic beverages or food items.

Energy drinks and sodas are particularly bad for your body and health with energy drinks (and soda, to a smaller degree) increasing your risk of getting caffeine intoxication, which can result in “heart palpitations, hypertension, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, psychosis, and in rare cases, death,” according to a study done on energy drinks in Europe. Soda is no better though, since its high sugar content is dangerous to Americans health and can severely increase your chance of heart disease or diabetes. We should be encouraging our citizens, especially ones on government assistance programs, to be eating and drinking healthier, rather than allowing them to buy the worst of the worst with their EBT cards.


Dear Director Saxton,

When the USDA made the horribly misguided decision to allow energy drinks to be purchased by food stamp card holders, they basically granted a death sentence to just about anyone with an EBT card. There used to be a reason that certain items were banned from purchase with food stamps, such as alcohol or tobacco. We as a nation collectively acknowledged that alcohol and tobacco items aren’t healthy and should not to be purchased using government assistance money. So why is it that we just stood by and allowed something incredibly toxic such as sodas and energy drinks to be cleared for purchased with SNAP?

It’s about time that Oregon, which has long since been a champion of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, join the ranks in the fight against sugary drinks such as soda and energy drinks. As the department of our government responsible for public health and nutrition, it’s your duty to ensure that our citizens are getting exactly what they need to survive, and sodas and energy drinks are certainly not one of those items. Step up to the plate and place a ban on the purchase of sugary soda drinks and energy drinks with EBT cards.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Global Healing Center

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  1. Who the devil came up with this paternalistic piece of government overreach? The list of allowable purchases shrinks with ever increasing restrictions and humiliating hoops to jump through, i.e. mandatory drug testing despite its far lower yield than in the general population. As a taxpayer, I am far more concerned with government waste and loss of revenue from corporate loopholes than worrying about whether someone getting a measly $127/month for food spends it on pop. Outrageous!

    • As a taxpayer I agree with this….why should I provide candy, soda, chips, and other junk food for people who qualify for help with their food buying budget?

      They are not being “humiliated” by this; they are being given, for free, food and drinks which for whatever reason they can’t afford. They don’t DESERVE the right to buy junk food and feed it to their kids.

  2. Margaret Melnick says:

    I would sign this petition if I thought it made any sense. Drug testing I can see. Many employer now require drug testing as pre employment If they are using drugs they may need treatment so they can get a job but drinking pop ?????

    • Eating junk food and drinking heavily sugared soda leads to obesity and can cause Type II Diabetes, BOTH of which have health effects that we, the taxpayer, have to then pay for.

      I have no issue with people who qualify for food stamps getting them, but no one automatically “deserves” to receive free junk food/ soda.

  3. Did you two deliberately conveniently “forget ” to mention energy drinks?

    • Rosslyn Osborne says:

      Yes, the letter states in the first section”Energy Drinks” and much later down the letter soda is mentioned with energy drinks.
      I do realise that many energy drinks are not all that healthy, and in the U.S. bottled water is ‘taking over’ in sales by comparison to previous years against pop drinks….
      But the real issue is: Why purchase drinks in plastic bottles at all? Food stamps or otherwise…
      Get a life people, why punish and degrade folk down on their luck.

  4. People who use SNAP benefits make the same food-buying decisions as we all do, and should not be discriminated against because they need temporary help affording their groceries. Moreover, allowing the government to designate foods as “good” and “bad” is problematic. Such a policy shift would create a food code more complicated and arbitrary than the tax code. It also would put us on a slippery slope of government intrusion into many decisions that have been always left to the individual to decide. What can motivate balanced lifestyles? Nutrition education and encouraging the availability of a wide array of food and beverage choices.

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