Monday, January 04, 2016
Healthier foods are now offered under food stamps! Until now, Americans availing the food stamp facility had less choice for healthy foods at retailer shops. The new proposal by USDA ensures that retailers provide and maintain continuous availability of healthy foods for consumers.
In the USA today, about 46 million people use the food stamps offered by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved new regulations to encourage retailers who accept food stamps to provide wider range of healthier food choices.
Currently, the SNAP vendors offer at least three varieties from the four main food groups - fruits and vegetables, dairy, breads and cereals, and meats, poultry and fish. The new regulations will enforce the retailers to stock seven varieties and at least three perishable items from each food group. Consequently, this rule will foster continuous availability and provision of at least 168 USDA approved healthy food items to the consumers.
Mr. Kevin Concannon, the USDA undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services explained, "USDA is committed to expanding access for SNAP participants to the types of foods that are important to a healthy diet. 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."
Between 2008 and 2014, the cost of SNAP has doubled to USD 74 billion. The introduction of bill may be a moment to rejoice for SNAP beneficiaries, yet it could mean fewer convenience stores qualify as SNAP retailers. Consequently, the USDA would have to ensure the rules don't affect SNAP recipients’ access to food retailers. Moreover, the USDA may have to waive the proposed requirements in some areas.
The USDA has further pushed back the Government’s attempts to curtail the SNAP programme. A bill was recently introduced for drug testing of the food stamp recipients, while the SNAP has not yet been subject to a 5% cut. Such initiatives are undesirable since they could deprive a family of access to food and basic necessities.
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