New SNAP Regulation Brings Controversy
July 05, 2016 governmentgrants.info Staff
The New Changes Coming to SNAP
Newer regulations are changing the very structure of the 74 billion dollar Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to change the current regulations by the end of the year. This means that stores would have to stock more healthy food such as vegetables and less quick convenience meals such as pizza.
This new regulation will undoubtedly set up a fierce rivalry between big box stores and corner stores. This new regulation will not be a problem for big box stores such as Walmart and Kroger because of the huge amount of shelf space available to them. But it will negatively affect sales for the corner stores. The corner stores simply do not have the storage to accommodate the increased amount of nutritious food that the new regulations are asking that they carry. These smaller stores might even have to close or stop accepting SNAP benefits. This could significantly affect the wider community as SNAP recipients have a smaller network of stores in which they can buy food.
The new regulations are suggesting that the corner stores start to stock more tofu and goat’s milk in order to reach the new minimums. But many stores are saying that the vast majority of people do not want tofu and goat’s milk. If people do not buy these items, then the stores will end up losing money in sales.
Also, the corner stores, which do not have the space, would have to store an additional 168 food items in order to be able to redeem food stamps. This venture would be a costly expense for these smaller stores. Smaller corner stores that are not able to stock the extra food might be pushed out of the SNAP program. This means that these stores could suffer as they lose sales. In fact, in 2015, SNAP sales composed an average of 5.8% of all sales at all participating stores.
The USDA undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, Kevin Concannon, said that although they realize the huge contribution that SNAP sales make toward the total sales at big box and smaller corner stores, Concannon also wants to make sure that there are healthier options available. He wants to better utilize tax payers’ dollars. Too often, many SNAP recipients purchase soda and chips with their benefits. Concannon wants to ensure that SNAP recipients have access to at least a minimum of healthy foods.
The proposal would more than double the amount of healthy foods offered at grocery stores. Specifically, it would offer a wider variety of meat, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and breads.
This issue has been highly contested by both parties. Congress is against the USDA on this issue. Moreover, there has been more than a thousand letters from stakeholders. In fact, this proposal would actually mark one of the biggest changes to the SNAP program, partly prompted by the Obama Administration. The Obama Administration wishes to provide more healthy food to lower income and poor families.
The eventual goal of the USDA is to stop restaurants from accepting SNAP benefits. The new proposal plans to bar stores from participating in SNAP if more than 15% of their sales consists of SNAP benefits.
But because of the controversy that the new proposal has received, Concannon plans on refining the proposal. But the common core of providing healthy food to lower income people will proceed as planned.