The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) proposed rule regarding stocking requirements for retail food stores that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). CSPI is a nonprofit organization with approximately 500,000 members and subscribers to Nutrition Action Healthletter. Since 1971, we have worked to improve food and nutrition policies and provide educational resources on nutrition and food safety. Increasing access to healthy food, especially for low-income families, is a core priority for CSPI and a necessary step to reduce health disparities among Americans.
The SNAP program has great potential to increase healthy food access for millions of families. Given this unfulfilled potential, CSPI has serious concerns with the proposed rule. While the SNAP stocking standards have long been flawed, USDA’s current proposal would weaken them further. The proposed rule would substantially undermine the purpose of SNAP stocking standards and could lead to greater SNAP use at outlets with limited options and outlets that sell primarily unhealthy foods, such as liquor, dollar, and corner stores. We encourage the agency to substantially revise its proposal and use nutrition to define variety among foods.