NACS Joins Fellow Industry Associations in Calling for Greater Flexibility Around SNAP Program

SNAP program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — NACS joined with four other associations to pen a letter to Congress asking that convenience stores be granted hot food waivers for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic. SNAP households cannot currently use their benefits for hot foods.

The letter requested "additional flexibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to better allow us to serve our customers in need."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has the ability to provide a SNAP waiver for hot food purchases during natural disasters, but the agency does not have the same authority to enact a waiver during the current crisis, as the COVID-19 pandemic has been declared a national emergency instead of a natural disaster.

"Our customers need the flexibility to purchase hot foods for carryout with SNAP," the letter states. "Due to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, our members have seen store shelves go empty for periods of time. While overall there is no shortage of foods, the staples that many customers rely on are often unavailable when they visit their local store. These customers, particularly those trying to follow state and local guidance to stay at home unless purchasing essential items, need the flexibility to purchase other foods — such as hot prepared foods — that may be available to them when they need them."

In addition to NACS, signatories of the letter include the National Restaurant Association; the National Retail Federation; NATSO; and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.

The group of signatories requested that Congressional leadership include hot foods waivers for SNAP households in their next legislative stimulus package.

"Many of these families need the flexibility of providing hot prepared foods to keep their families healthy and fed during a very trying time," the letter concluded.