New food stamp rules will kill many convenience stores
New rules being proposed by the Department of Agriculture will decimate convenience stores, says the National Association of Convenience Stores,
Not only don't the new rules make any sense, but they illustrate Big Brother at his most intrusive and idiotic.
On Feb. 16 the department announced a rule that would require Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-authorized retail establishments to offer seven varieties of foods in four staple food groups such as dairy, breads and cereals, meats, poultry and fish, and fruits and vegetables on a continuous basis. Stores would also be required to stock at least six units of each variety, meaning there would have to be at least 168 of the required foods at the store.
Big-box retailers such as Walmart would not be harmed by the rule like smaller stores, since they have higher amounts of inventory. For convenience stores like 7-Eleven, the rule would present a challenge to their business model due to limited space and more restricted supply chains.
“For small retailers there is limited space on shelves and coolers, and the proposed regulation would mandate that we have 168 single ingredient staple foods on display on shelves at all times,” explained Anna Ready, director of government relations at the National Association of Convenience Stores, a international trade association that represents more than 2,200 retail members.
“They changed the underlying definition of staple foods to exclude foods that have multiple ingredients so that a mixed fruit cup or can of chicken noodle soup could no longer be counted towards a retailer’s stocking requirements,” Ready said. “This is extremely onerous for small format retailers with limited storage space and it would be very costly to change supply and delivery, or even remodel a store, to comply with this.”
“The rule also changes the definition of a retail food store to accept SNAP,” Ready said. “A store would no longer be considered a retail food store if 15 percent or more of your total food sales are of foods that are heated or cooked on site. That provision alone pushes out 47,000 convenience stores immediately of the 106,531 convenience stores that participate in SNAP.”
Are they serious? Ordering a small business to carry a certain number of a particular item? I'm sure small businesses appreciate the stocking advice from Washington, but they could probably do without.
The only option for most of these stores will be to stop accepting EBT cards. In many poor areas – so called "food deserts" because there is a lack of grocery stores selling fresh food – this means long treks on public transporation to grocery stores because there are few places to purchase food in their neighborhood.
Say what you want about the nutritional value of much of the food carried by 7-11 or White Hen. For the poor, it's better than nothing. Now the administration is looking to shut down the only source of groceries for many poor people – all in the name of "nutrition." It's a clear case of government trying to good but ends up making the situation worse.