Bakari Sellers challenges Gov. Nikki Haley to eat on food stamp - - Columbia, South Carolina

Bakari Sellers challenges Gov. Nikki Haley to eat on food stamp budget


Just one day after Gov. Nikki Haley and DHEC director Catherine Templeton revealed their plans to curb obesity in the state by setting up certain food restrictions for food stamps recipients, state House Rep. Bakari Sellers says he's challenging the governor and DSS Director Lillian Koller to attempt to eat healthy foods on a food stamp budget for one week.

Sellers says he's committed to shopping for healthy foods in his district, which contains Barnwell, Colleton, and Bamberg counties.

"While the Governor's idea sounds good on the surface, poverty and obesity is not caused just by unhealthy foods, but rather expenses and access to healthy alternatives," said Sellers in a statement. "We don't have Whole Foods in rural South Carolina, nor does the farmer's market accept food stamps."

Sellers says many state residents aren't eating unhealthily by choice, but by necessity.

"Sometimes it is hard to understand the plight of the poor until you walk a mile in their shoes," said Sellers.

South Carolinians received on average over $100 million in food stamps per month in 2012.

The Bamberg representative says a better alternative to fight the state's weight troubles is to start in schools and keep unhealthy foods away from children.

"Obesity in South Carolina starts in the schools," said Sellers. "If Governor Haley truly wants to fight this epidemic, I would ask for her support in helping pass my healthy school lunch bill."

The governor's spokesperson, Rob Godfrey, responded to Sellers' challenge, calling it "just another political opportunity" for Sellers to "exploit for personal gain."

"When he implies that SNAP participants are unable to make healthy choices, he insults them. This is an opportunity for leaders like State Rep. Sellers to work with the governor, who grew up in his district, on fighting obesity, the No. 1 killer of South Carolinians," said Godfrey.

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