SNAP Hot Foods Bill Seeks to Lift Sales Restriction

NACS supports bipartisan legislation that would allow c-stores to sell warm meals to people who use the anti-hunger program.

December 22, 2021

SNAP Accepted Here Sign

WASHINGTON—Legislation was introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow Americans participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase hot, prepared foods, which are not currently allowed in the program. The bipartisan legislation, the SNAP PLUS Act of 2021 (H.R. 6338,) was introduced by Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL), Grace Meng (D-NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), reports the Southland Journal.

“I grew up in a single-parent household. My mother worked hard to provide for us, but my family was always on the edge financially, and at times, we relied on government benefits to get by,” said Rep. Rush. “I remember many times when I would not have a decent meal for dinner. So, I understand the importance of food security programs firsthand. It is clear to me—and to families I have heard from who are facing food insecurity in the 1st District and across the nation—that the exclusion of hot and prepared foods under current SNAP criteria is impractical, misguided and unwise.”

In 1964, Congress passed the Food Stamp Act creating an anti-hunger program for low-income Americans in need of assistance. When the program, which would evolve into modern day SNAP, was established, Congress put in place a restriction on hot, prepared foods. The intention of Congress was that the program was for meals prepared at home. However, over the past 50 years, Americans’ shopping and eating habits have evolved, and SNAP families need convenience and faster meal-preparation as they juggle more responsibilities. Allowing the purchase of hot foods would give these individuals the same flexibility that other Americans depend upon.

“The fact that you can use SNAP to purchase a frozen, breaded chicken but not a hot rotisserie chicken or a salad from a grocery store salad bar, frankly, makes no sense,” Rush continued.

“This restriction is most harmful to individuals who may be experiencing homelessness, recovering from a natural disaster, or otherwise lack convenient access to a kitchen or the ability to heat up foods—in other words, people who are among those most in need. The SNAP PLUS Act will remedy the disparity in how hot and prepared foods are treated under SNAP. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues, Reps. Meng and Fitzpatrick, in introducing this vital bipartisan legislation just in time for Christmas. Congress must ensure that families can afford to put food on the table and make the right dietary choices for themselves and their families—not just during the holiday season, but every day,” Rush said.