ALEXANDRIA, Va.—NACS has released an updated compliance guide for NACS members who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Prepared by NACS counsel, the SNAP guide is accessible only to NACS members.
As previously reported, on December 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) finalized regulations that increased the eligibility requirements small format retailers must meet to participate in SNAP. Since then, FNS has updated its Training Guide for Retailers to require retailers to “retain all invoices for at least one year for program eligibility and integrity purposes.” As a result, NACS counsel has updated the SNAP compliance guide for NACS members, which NACS originally released shortly after FNS published its final rule.
SNAP provides more than 44 million Americans, including millions of children, with the resources to buy food and sets the requirements for the 256,516 stores that accept SNAP benefits for food purchases. Small format stores, including the 115,456 convenience stores that currently participate in SNAP, provide critical access to food for many SNAP beneficiaries who may live long distances from a large food retailer or may need to shop for food during non-traditional hours when other food retailers are closed.
The final rule codifies the 2014 Farm Bill’s statutory depth-of-stock provisions, which specify the minimum number of food items a retailer must offer to participate in the program. NACS supported the 2014 Farm Bill, which requires retailers to stock seven varieties of foods in the four “staple food” categories: dairy, meat, poultry, or fish; bread or cereal; and vegetables or fruits. The final rule will also require retailers to stock three of every SNAP item (84 items total) on shelf—although USDA would permit retailers to demonstrate compliance with the stocking unit requirements via receipts and other invoices that prove they purchased the necessary items up to 21 days before the date of an agency inspection. These are the receipts/invoices that retailers must be sure to retain for one year in the event FNS initiates an inspection.
Finally, under the final rule, stores would be disqualified from the program if 50% or more of the store’s gross retail sales (including fuel sales) comes from items cooked or heated on site before or after purchase—the so-called “hot foods” threshold.
While certain parts of the rule have gone into effect, the updated stocking requirements (seven varieties in the four staple food categories) are on hold until FNS finalizes a revised definition of “variety.”
NACS members should watch NACS Daily for more information—and may access the retailer compliance guide prepared by NACS counsel here. NACS members who have questions about the final rule are encouraged to contact Anna Ready Blom at firstname.lastname@example.org.