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Industry Cheers USDA Final Rule on SNAP

The produce industry has commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s revised final rule to improve retailer standards in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to boost healthier choices for program participants.

“The new retail standards will increase the variety and amount of fruits and vegetables available to SNAP customers while being sensitive to the concerns of convenience stores and other small food retail businesses,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association. “The rule ensures that SNAP retailers offer seven varieties of fruits and vegetables, with three units of each variety, for a total of 21. We believe that this is a win-win for SNAP families and retail stores.”

Added Stenzel: “In reviewing the proposed rule, United Fresh had supported provisions to make more fruits and vegetables available to SNAP recipients, but also encouraged USDA to be sensitive to regulatory burdens place on small retailers. We are working hard to assist convenience and small-footprint retailers in stocking and merchandising more fresh fruits and vegetables.”

When asked about the final rule, Kathy Means, VP of industry relations at Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association (PMA), told Progressive Grocer: “PMA is eager to be sure SNAP recipients have access to as much delicious, nutritious fresh produce as possible. And we recognize some of the challenges certain retailers may have in ramping up their offerings. The line for ‘how much is the right amount’ to make available is a moving target in these transitional times. This is something we’ll continue to watch, especially as the next farm bill comes to life.”

Last month, representatives from Balls Food Stores, and Thrive Market testified before the House Agriculture Committee on the novel strategies retailers employ to improve access to nutritious foods. The hearing was part of a review process, “The Past, Present and Future of SNAP: Opportunities for Improving Access to Food,” the findings of which will be detailed in a forthcoming report.


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