Posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 at 2:31 pm
It 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.