USDA plan could backfire

Published 12:04 am Sunday, August 28, 2016

Meanwhile in Congress, Ohio’s Republican and Democratic senators teamed up with half their colleagues to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to change course on changes that could force many small food stores out of the SNAP program. That’s the old “food stamps.”

Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown signed onto a recent letter to the USDA warning of unforeseen, costly consequences to the agency’s good intentions. The changes, they said, could put at risk 45 million families, seniors and children who count on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to avoid hunger.

The USDA had good intentions: To provide the poor with greater access to healthier foods by requiring participating stores to routinely stock a larger and greater variety of vegetables, fruits, dairy products, bread, cereal, meat, fish or poultry…

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But the National Association of Convenience Stores points out retailers would have to have a deeper stock of staple items, displaying 168 different items to qualify for the program…

… The USDA’s good intentions could seriously backfire and leave the poor worse off by further restricting access to affordable groceries closer to home…

Even the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy concluded that the USDA had enormously underestimated … the cost of the healthier-food proposals to a single store. The USDA should reconsider, given strong warnings that it would force out a large number of small shops that now are able to participate in the SNAP program.


The Columbus Dispatch