USDA Proposes New Requirements for SNAP Retailers

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposed rule Feb. 16 that would make it far more difficult for NATSO members to redeem Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamp) benefits.
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Proposed Rule would require retailers to offer for sale a number of additional food items to redeem SNAP benefits.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposed rule Feb. 16 that would make it far more difficult for NATSO members to redeem Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamp) benefits.  Many convenience stores that are owned and operated by truckstop and travel plaza operators redeem SNAP benefits. These establishments 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 sum, the rule would preclude any retailer from redeeming SNAP benefits if 15% or more of their total food sales -- including hot food sold within a convenience store or other restaurants located on the premises -- are from food that is cooked or heated on-site.  The rule would also require SNAP retailers to stock and offer for sale a larger quantity of "staple food" items. Furthermore, it would substantially narrow the definition of "staple food" item in a manner that may 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. (NATSO members that do not wish to redeem SNAP benefits will be unaffected by this rulemaking.) 
 
The proposed rule's release starts the clock on a 60-day public comment period.  NATSO intends to file comments to ensure the travel plaza and truckstop industry's perspective is sufficiently represented in the rulemaking process. The rule is unlikely to take effect until the end of 2016, at the earliest. 
 
Log in to the NATSO website to read a detailed overview of the USDA rule.