Following Hurricane Idalia in Florida last week, the USDA approved the state’s request to temporarily allow SNAP households to purchase hot foods. The temporary benefits are valid through October 1 and apply to 23 counties in Florida including Citrus, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco.
With regard to implementation, the Food and Nutrition Service states, “Retailers in your state may need as much as 24-36 hours to make changes that will allow for sale of hot foods. Please set appropriate expectations when messaging hot foods availability to SNAP participants.”
Because 93% of Americans (and 86% of rural Americans) live within 10 minutes of one of the 150,000 convenience stores in the country, c-stores provide crucial access points to nutrition for the population, especially for low-income families. NACS is a champion for permanently lifting the hot foods ban for SNAP benefits which would offer families more flexibility and the stores simplicity. Apart from the temporary waiver, someone could buy a cold, pre-made sandwich using SNAP benefits but not a hot cup of soup. The distinction is restrictive to families and confusing to store associates.
The Hot Foods Act (H.R. 3519) was introduced with bipartisan support and would allow hot food SNAP purchases at SNAP participating retail stores. The 2023 Farm Bill offers an opportunity to modernize the program and give more commonsense flexibility to families. Reach out to your Members of Congress to urge them to support permanently lifting the ban on hot foods for SNAP benefits using NACS’ Grassroots Portal.