CBS6: Changes to SNAP program would expand grocery store offerings

CBS6, BRENDAN KING

Cassie Edner knows firsthand how it feels to worry about their next meal.

“[SNAP] is something that helped my family and helped put food on my table when we needed it. So I really appreciate SNAP and all the public benefits that have gotten me to where I am now,” Edner recalled.

Edner serves as director of Virginia Hunger Solutions, which is organized under the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

She helps connect mostly single working mothers and seniors to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as someone who once benefited from the federal program.

SNAP enables low-income households to afford more healthy foods and boosts families’ food purchases, particularly those to be prepared or eaten at home.

Edner supports changes to the federal guidelines that would expand a family’s choices at the grocery store.

The Hot Foods Act, which is supported by both Republicans and Democrats, would allow for the purchase of hot and prepared foods ready for immediate consumption.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-7th District) is helping negotiate the Hot Foods Act and the Farm Bill as the only Virginians on the US House Agriculture Committee.

“Broadly across Congress, people have come to this realization that this is a fix that just makes sense,” Spanberger said.

She talked about the ability to purchase a hot, rotisserie chicken from a grocer’s deli.

“I think the rotisserie chicken example is the perfect one because it’s one of the most economical ways to feed a family. You can eat the chicken, you can have leftover chicken, you can put it in a stir fry, you can make bone broth, you can make chicken soup,” Spanberger explained.

Edner sees seniors with limited mobility and busy, single working parents that would benefit the most from the changes. Some SNAP users are homeless or do not have access to a kitchen.

“It doesn’t make sense why individuals on SNAP can’t have that same ability to just like go get easy food that’s affordable, that’s already made, because a lot of people are working multiple jobs,” she stated.

If approved and added to the Farm Bill, the Hot Foods Act would not go into effect until late next year or into 2025.

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