Dem calls on feds to rewrite food stamp rule

Dem calls on feds to rewrite food stamp rule
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A House Democrat is taking aim at a proposed Agriculture Department rule that would keep restaurants from accepting food stamps, saying it would make it harder for low-income families to get access to healthy foods.

“I believe we ought to be doing everything we can to promote healthier diets and healthier purchases, but this isn’t the way to do it,” Rep. James McGovernJames (Jim) Patrick McGovernThe Hill Interview: Colombian President Duque calls for multilateral COVID-19 solutions House revives floor amendments The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Will Trump's plan to reopen the economy work? MORE (D-Mass.) said in a call with reporters Thursday.

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The rule in question, first proposed in February, changes the current definition of "retailer" under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to prohibit not just businesses that derive more than 50 percent of their total gross retail sales from hot and/or cold prepared foods from accepting food stamps, but also businesses that sell food cold and heat it up for customers in the store.

He argued the rule could prohibit convenience stores like 7-Eleven, which in some communities are the only store around, from accepting SNAP benefits.

McGovern said the Agriculture Department should go back to the drawing board.

“I think we all agree we should be encouraging healthier and more nutritious choices,” he said. “Given the reality, especially where a lot of these convenience stores are located, there is a limit on what you can expect them to do.”

The department is required by the 2014 Farm Bill to develop regulations to ensure that stores that accept SNAP benefits offer a broad variety of healthy food choices.