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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing hopes the federal government will not make it harder for retailers to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering expanding the requirements that food retailers must meet in order to redeem SNAP benefits. For instance, the department is looking at prohibiting stores from redeeming SNAP benefits based on their sales volume of non-SNAP items such as alcohol or tobacco, according to the Alexandria-based association.
"Making it more difficult for retailers to redeem SNAP benefits will, in turn, make it more difficult for beneficiaries to access the nutrition they need. This is not consistent with the program's purpose," NACS wrote in a letter cosigned by SIGMA.
The letter also cautioned the USDA about tying SNAP fraud and SNAP beneficiary purchasing decisions into one issue. "Those two issues have nothing to do with one another. They have different unrelated solutions. Recognizing this fundamental fact is a necessary first step toward improving the program," the associations stated. "If the agency conflates the two issues, it will solve neither of them. Instead, it will generate unintended consequences that will make it more difficult for less-affluent Americans to buy food."
According to NACS, once a retailer meets the necessary eligibility requirements to redeem SNAP benefits, it should be allowed to participate in the program. Any change to the program could affect financially challenged Americans, especially those who live in rural or deeply urban communities who depend on convenience stores for food on a regular basis, the association added.
To read NACS’ full letter to the USDA, click here.
NACS represents more than 2,200 retail and 1,600 supplier company members. Retail members operate more than 77,000 convenience stores worldwide.
SIGMA represents approximately 260 independent chain retailers and motor fuel marketers.