The USDA is expected to announce new standards for retailers that participate in the food stamp program later this week.
The proposed standards would open a whole new world of healthy food to those who rely on SNAP. Under current regulations, retailers that accept food stamps must stock at least three different types of fruits and vegetables, dairy, breads and cereals, meat, poultry, and fish. With the new rules, retailers would be required to stock at least seven varieties in each food group, including perishable items, so those food stamp users could more easily purchase fresh produce, as opposed to canned.
"The USDA is committed to expanding access for SNAP participants to the types of foods that are important to a healthy diet," Kevin Concannon, USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, said in a statement. "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."
In total, retailers would have to stock at least 168 items that the USDA deems to be healthy, according to the Associated Press. Retailers would also be required to replenish stock, to ensure availability of fresh produce for those using SNAP coupons. There has been concern that these new stricter regulations would result in fewer grocery and convenience stores participating in the SNAP program.
The would-be regulations are somewhat contradictory to Republicans’ efforts to require drug tests for food stamp recipients.