USDA may force retailers to offer healthy choices

Officials say proposed rule aims to expand access to healthy foods


MIAMI – Food stamps can still be used to buy junk food, but Florida stores accepting food stamps will be forced to stock a variety of healthy foods, according to newly proposed Agriculture Department rules.

The federal food stamps program -- also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- helped to put food on the table for some 42.7 million during 2014 in Florida. SNAP retailers could face penalties and the USDA warned that they will release the names of participants who break the rules. 

"SNAp violations are a serious matter," said Kevin W. Concannon, USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. "Public disclosure of this information is intended to serve as a deterrent against retailer fraud."

To qualify as a SNAP retailer, a store must stock at least 168 items that the USDA considers healthy. There should be seven varieties of food from each of the four food groups: Fruits and vegetables, dairy, breads  and cereals and meats, poultry and fish. At least three of the food groups must include perishable items. 




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