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WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a bipartisan letter sent Aug. 2 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 47 U.S. senators urged the agency to revise its proposed rule that would alter the eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), according to NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
The letter discusses concerns that the rule would be overly burdensome for small-format retailers, leading them to decline participating and thus drastically reducing access for SNAP beneficiaries.
"Many SNAP recipients in communities with limited access to large grocery stores rely upon small-format stores, including neighborhood stores, drugstores and convenience stores, for SNAP purchases," states the letter, which was spearheaded by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
The proposed new USDA rule would require retailers to stock more varieties of products in four "staple food" categories, but eliminate multiple-ingredient items like a frozen pizza or a can of chicken noodle soup from counting toward a retailer's "depth of stock" requirements, as CSNews Online previously reported.
"The cost and burden of complying with the proposed rule could be too high for these retailers to continue participating in SNAP," wrote the senators. "This would result in the exact opposite of what is intended — it would reduce access to healthy food for SNAP participants."
More than 20 members of the Congressional Black Caucus and 161 members of the House of Representatives already sent similar letters to the USDA this spring.