Under new SNAP rules, stores will have to stock more staples

SNAP to it. Back in May, our columnist Pat Clinton considered proposed changes to existing SNAP (food stamps) rules. On Thursday, those rules were finalized with a few minor changes. Quick recap: At the time they were proposed, the new rules required that retailers stock more of each SNAP-eligible food (a minimum of seven units instead of a minimum of one), that multiple-ingredient items be counted only under one category (for example, frozen pizza can’t be both dairy and meat), and that stores that sell hot food(which can’t be purchased using SNAP) are eligible to participate only if hot food sales don’t exceed 15 percent. That last rule is meant to keep restaurants from becoming SNAP vendors. All told, the proposed rules increased the inventory minimum from 12 items to 168.

Convenience stores that sell both hot food and groceries won’t be cut out of the program.

Under the final rules, many of the toughest requirements have been softened. The minimum number of units per item is now three, so the total inventory minimum is 84—still significantly higher than the 12-item minimum under the current rules. And the total amount of hot food any establishment can sell is 50 percent (up from 15), so convenience stores that sell both hot food and groceries won’t be cut out of the program.

TL;DR: There’s a new set of SNAP rules. The most important change is that that stores will have to stock more staples. So a corner store that puts one banana in the window and still accepts food stamps will now have to put three bananas in the window, plus a few apples, and maybe some celery.

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H. Claire Brown is a senior staff writer for The Counter. Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, and The Intercept and has won awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, the New York Press Club, the Newswomen's Club of New York, and others. A North Carolina native, she now lives in Brooklyn.