New Rule Could Help SNAP Recipients Eat Healthier
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New Rule Could Help SNAP Recipients Eat Healthier

Posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 at 2:31 pm
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New Rule Could Help SNAP Recipients Eat Healthier | FreeCoupons.comIt costs less money to buy processed food than it does to buy fresh, healthier, food. That makes it difficult for people who are low-income to buy produce for their family. People who live in “food deserts” also have trouble finding fresh food. A new rule could make it easier for SNAP recipients to eat healthier.

What is SNAP?
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It was once called “food stamps”. It is a program run by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is why the Farm Bills in Congress can affect the SNAP program (and its recipients).

The purpose of the SNAP program is to assist low-income individuals and families who are struggling to buy food. There are financial eligibility requirements attached to the SNAP program. SNAP covers breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish and poultry, and dairy products.

What is a “food desert”?
The USDA defines a “food desert” as: “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas.” This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other healthy food providers.

People who live in “food deserts” might not have a car. They can’t simply drive to the next town in order to find a supermarket. They end up buying their groceries at convenience stores (which do not typically stock fresh produce).

What is the new rule?
The USDA proposed rule would require stores that accept SNAP to offer a broader variety of healthy food choices. SNAP 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 food groups are: dairy products; breads and cereals; meats, poultry, fish; and fruits and vegetables. Stores would need to sell at least six units within each variety for a total of at least 168 required food items per store. The USDA will accept public comment on this proposed rule until April 16, 2016.

How can this rule help people eat healthier?
The proposed rule would make it much easier for people who are low-income and eligible for the SNAP program to find fresh, healthy, food. It will enable individuals and families who have access to a working refrigerator and stove at home, and who also have access to pots, pans, and clean water to cook with, to eat healthier.

The rule does not specifically state the price that stores can charge for the fresh produce. If stores price the healthy foods too high, SNAP recipients still won’t be able to purchase them.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.