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Independent Grocer Testifies on SNAP Choice Before Congress

Food Fresh’s Michael Gay warned that restricting program would be harmful for consumers, retailers
Michael Gay Food Fresh Testimony Congress Main Image
Food Fresh's Michael Gay testified before Congress on limiting SNAP choice.

Michael Gay, owner and single-store operator of Food Fresh in rural Evans County, Ga., testified before Congress on May 22, during which he cautioned that limiting SNAP choice would weaken the program’s effectiveness, confuse participants and impose a costly bureaucratic burden on small businesses across the country.

“Restricting eligible items to those approved by the USDA will quickly drive up food costs and strangle the program with needless red tape,” noted Gay in his testimony. “With SNAP Choice, every American — regardless of their financial situation — can continue to feed themselves and their families in the way that works best for them.”

This past February, almost 2,500 grocers signed a letter to Congress expressing their opposition to SNAP restrictions, including a pilot of this policy. 

“We believe a SNAP restriction pilot would be just as harmful as a nationwide policy and we strongly urge the committee to oppose any policy leading to the restriction of SNAP purchases,” Gay said in his testimony. “One of the many reasons this program is successful is the ease of processing SNAP transactions for retailers and beneficiaries who can make their own decisions on which food items to purchase for their household.”

“Restricting the choices of SNAP customers to items approved by the USDA will increase program implementation costs for the government and discourage business participation in the program,” he added. “The government will need to categorize more than 600,000 products and thousands more each year to create and maintain a food code to determine what foods can be purchased with SNAP.” 

Gay’s testimony took place as almost 120 independent grocers took part in more than 100 meetings with policymakers on such key issues as antitrust reform and enforcement, SNAP Choice enhancements and the reform of credit card routing to lower swipe fees during The National Grocers Association’s (NGA) annual Fly-In for Fair Competition in Washington, D.C., which kicked off on May 21. 

Washington, D.C.-based NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale  grocers comprising the independent sector of the food distribution industry. Its members include retail and wholesale grocers in every congressional district across the United States, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers. 

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