Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Nearly one in five people across the state use food stamps.

The cost for the federal government is more than a billion dollars per year in South Carolina.

Food stamps, the official name is "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program" or SNAP, has some restrictions as to what you can get but the governor and other state leaders want to widen those restrictions to help promote healthy eating.

"We are going to go to the hot spots; we are going to the base of where we know we have the problems," said Governor Nikki Haley.

Haley says that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program should live up to its name and focus on healthy eating.

With that in mind, our state is requesting a waiver from the federal government to change that, but it comes with some hesitation.

"Right now the USDA has some arguments about why they don't want to make changes to the program, one of them is the difficulty of administering and what would be on the list," said Catherine Templeton, Director of DHEC.

Under the current SNAP criteria recipients can purchase any items they want, as long as it's not alcohol, tobacco or hot items. Governor Haley and other state leaders say that obesity is the number one killer in our state and they want to do away with sugary items like cookies and chips.

"You are looking to a billion dollars that will no longer be put towards candy, chocolate, sodas and chips but maybe be put to apples and oranges and things that are healthy and that teaches a whole family how to be healthy," said Haley.

Before submitting their waiver from the government, DHEC will be holding several forums to get public input on what should be taken off the list. The first of which will be held Thursday. Templeton says things needs to be done to protect the future of our state.

"One thing that is very important, I am not asking the government to be the food police, all I am saying is we should not be paying," said Templeton.

The Meetings for Public Input Are:

March 21, 2013
5:30 - 7:30 PM
Richland County Council Chambers
2020 Hampton Street
Columbia, SC 29204

March 28, 2013
5:30 - 7:30 PM
Bevis Conference Center
Pee Dee Mental Health Center
125 East Cheves Street
Florence, SC 29506

April 18, 2013
5:30 - 7:30 PM
Greenville County Council Chambers (County Square)
301 University Ridge
Greenville, SC 29601

May 2, 2013
5:30 - 7:30 PM
Sterett Hall at the Navy Yard
1530 7th Street and Hobson Avenue
North Charleston, SC 29405

Persons wishing to publicly comment during any of these meetings will be asked to register to speak at the door. For those unable to attend the meetings, comments can be submitted:

through DHEC's online form at
via email at
by calling toll-free 1-866-664-0483.

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