USDA Proposes New Regulations: Forcing Stores To Offer Better Food

The USDA is trying to improve America's food industry, one baby step at at time. The United States Department of Agriculture revealed new proposed regulations on February 15th, 2015 that would force food retailers who accept food stamps to stock a bigger variety of healthy foods. If they fail to comply, they face the loss of business as customers will go someplace else where they can get better food.

Kevin Concannon, the USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, said "the USDA is committed to expanding access for SNAP participants to the types of foods that are important to a healthy diet. This proposed rule ensures that retailers who accept SNAP benefits offer a variety of products to support healthy choices for those participating in the program."(AP-The Big Story).

SNAP stands for The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This is essentially what you may understand as "food stamps". And in 2014 Congress required the USDA to create rules that would require stores who accept food stamps stock a wider array of healthy food choices. However, currently under SNAP rules food retailers must stock only three varieties of food in each of the four food groups (fruits & vegetables, dairy, breads & grains and meats/poultry & fish). The new rules would make the requirement increase to seven varieties.

The new rules would also require that at least three of the food groups include perishable items as well. And that retailers have enough in stock of each item so that the items are consistently available. This could cause some harmful effects, as certain groceries and food retailers may not qualify to accept the food stamps. This would make access more difficult in some neighborhoods. However, Concannon has said that the USDA would try to make sure that the rules do not affect access to food, and that they may even waive the proposed rules in some areas if necessary.

The SNAP program served "more than 46 million Americans and cost $74 billion last year" (usanews.com). That's 46 million Americans who deserve and need access to healthy foods. And there is plenty of debate as to who gets the assistance and for how long. We will not explore the politics, however we do think that all Americans (whether on SNAPor not) should be aware of what is happening in the world around them. Something that affects 46 million Americans affects all Americans. To give you a better perspective that's more than some countries total population.

The new rules could be a good thing. It could make us a healthier America. Which could also mean a harder-working, happier and more thriving America. It's a step in the right direction from the USDA. And it's a step in the right direction for our society as a whole. The more we care about our food, the quality of it and where it comes from, the better our lives will be. What do you think the USDA rules might change? Start the discussion and look for sustainable choices anywhere you can.

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