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Food stamp proposal still limits junk food

A second Senate panel has signed off on a proposal that would limit the use of cash assistance benefits for the needy, including a new list of junk foods Floridians can no longer purchase using food stamps. The controversial plan now has one more stop in the Senate before it reaches the floor, and a House version is moving, too.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, voted alongside Democrats in opposing the measure.

Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, had filed an amendment that would have deleted the junk food restrictions from the legislation, but he withdrew it prior to the Senate's Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations meeting Wednesday.

The panel did approve an amendment to Senate Bill 1658 from Garcia that creates the "Healthy Foods Retail Act," a program to expand the availability of fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods in low-income areas. The amendment directs the state to find funding to offer grants or loans to food retailers.