New federal regulations intended to promote healthy eating could make it harder to use food stamps at convenience stores – a change that opponents say will leave disadvantaged people with fewer places to buy groceries.
The standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would require retailers that accept food stamps to stock more and fresher varieties of food. But many convenience stores won’t be able to meet the requirements and will be forced from the the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, or food stamps, critics say.
Critics of the USDA proposal– including Democratic and Republican lawmakers – say the new standards will be impossible for many convenience stores and rural markets to meet. As a result, tens of thousands of stores across the country could stop accepting food stamps.
The impact would be felt especially in so-called food deserts in rural areas and urban centers, where big-box groceries are few and far between, said Anna Ready, director of government relations for the National Association of Convenience Stores, a trade association.
The USDA says the proposal is intended to ensure that SNAP beneficiaries have access to healthy food choices, especially in areas where they don’t have much choice about where to shop.
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