Weigh in

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will hold a public comment forum about the food stamp proposal at 5:30 p.m. May 2 at Sterett Hall at the Navy Yard, 1530 7th St. and Hobson Ave., North Charleston.

Food stamp recipients may be none too pleased with Gov. Nikki Haley’s proposal to restrict what they can buy with those vouchers, but, according to the results of a new poll, it seems most South Carolinians like the idea.

A new Winthrop University poll, which included responses from more than 1,069 residents in early April, shows 59.5 percent of those interviewed said they strongly or somewhat favor forbidding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, recipients from buying unhealthy foods with the food stamps.

Only 36.9 percent responded that they strongly or somewhat disagree with the proposal.

Haley unveiled a plan in February that would prohibit shoppers from buying foods commonly linked with obesity with SNAP credit.

The details of the plan, including what foods would be prohibited, have not been released, although Haley specifically mentioned candy, soda, chocolate and chips in a speech.

Some grocery store items already are restricted from food stamp purchases, including alcohol, tobacco and hot, ready-to-eat items. The Haley administration will need a waiver from the federal government to impose further restrictions.

If approved, the program would be the first of its kind in the nation, but it faces an uphill battle. The federal government released an 11-page report six years ago explaining why restricting unhealthy foods from food stamp purchases to curb obesity is not feasible because, among several reasons, it is hard to determine and monitor what items are unhealthy.

Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop Poll initiative, said results of the April poll suggest the food stamp proposal has support among voters from both political parties in the state.

The feeling among respondents suggests that, “When we have a social safety network, we want to make sure people are using the money the way we want them to,” Huffmon said.

The poll also found only 15 percent of South Carolina adults approve of the way Congress is doing its job, while 38 percent approve of the General Assembly.

Haley’s approval rating among Republicans and those leaning to the GOP rose from 66.8 percent in February to 69 percent. Among all state residents, her number ticked up 1 percent — to 43.5 percent.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said in a statement about the results that the governor pays more attention to job numbers than poll numbers.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.