USDA proposed a new rule this week designed to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants increased access to healthy foods by forcing stores that accept food stamps to carry a wider array of food choices.
“USDA is committed to expanding access for SNAP participants to the types of foods that are important to a healthy diet,” says Kevin Concannon, under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. “This proposed rule ensures that retailers who accept SNAP benefits offer a variety of products to support healthy choices for those participating in the program.”
Under the proposed rule, retailers would be required to offer seven varieties of qualifying foods in four staple food groups for sale on a continuous basis, along with perishable foods in at least three of the four staple food groups. The staple foods groups are dairy products; breads and cereals; meats, poultry and fish; and fruits and vegetables. In addition, the proposal calls for retailers to stock at least six units within each variety, leading to a total of at least 168 required food items per store.
This proposed rule is one of many ways USDA is working to expand access to healthy foods for SNAP recipients. USDA has piloted the use of incentives to purchase healthy foods at point of sale in various venues, including farmers markets and small groceries where the incentive provided for additional purchase of local produce.