NATSO told the Department of Agriculture that its recently proposed rule regarding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will negatively impact travel plazas that redeem SNAP benefits, and their customers, and should be substantially revised before it is finalized.
In comments filed May 18 with the Department of Agriculture, NATSO said the agency has gone too far with its proposal and that if finalized it would effectively prohibit smaller format retailers from participating in SNAP, and thereby harm the SNAP beneficiaries that it is trying to help.
Truckstops and travel plaza operators that redeem SNAP benefits play an important role in the SNAP program, especially in areas where there are few other locations for financially challenged Americans to purchase food.
In its comments, NATSO focused on how the proposed rule would prohibit retailers from redeeming SNAP benefits if 15 percent or more of their total food sales are for items cooked or heated on-site. Many convenience stores operated by truckstop and travel plazas are located at the same site as quick-serve and/or sit-down restaurants, and this would cause these locations to exceed the proposed 15% maximum.
Furthermore, the proposal would require SNAP retailers to stock and offer for sale a larger quantity of "staple food" items while substantially narrowing the definition of "staple food." This would require NATSO members wishing to redeem SNAP benefits to offer for sale a number of items that they would otherwise not be inclined to stock and that their customers are not inclined to buy.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on May 19 adopted changes to its Fiscal Year 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that would ensure that small format retailers can continue participating in SNAP.
A manager's amendment offered by Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) passed by voice vote that would prevent the Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) from using any funds to finalize specific parts of the USDA proposed rule.
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