Spanberger Leads Commonsense, Bipartisan Bill to Let Virginians Use SNAP Benefits to Buy Hot Foods

May 25, 2023

The “Hot Foods Act” Would Allow SNAP Beneficiaries to Buy Hot Foods & Prepared Hot Foods Using Benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday helped introduce the Hot Foods Act — bipartisan legislation to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to purchase hot foods through the program.

Currently, an outdated provision of the Food and Nutrition Act limits SNAP purchases to foods designed for take-home preparation and consumption, or cold prepared foods. The bipartisan Hot Foods Act would remove this provision and allow SNAP dollars to be used to purchase hot and prepared foods ready for immediate consumption — which American consumers are increasingly relying on to feed their families.

“Right now, working Virginians are banned from using SNAP benefits to buy warm chicken or prepared soup from a grocery store. That means a single parent on their way home from work can’t swing by the store and pick up a rotisserie chicken using SNAP dollars,” said Spanberger. “Allowing SNAP recipients to use the dollars already afforded to them by this program to put hot food on the table is an economical way to spend these dollars. I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in recognizing how these increased flexibilities both benefit our neighbors and strengthen SNAP — a program that feeds millions of families, children, seniors, Veterans, and Americans with disabilities in Virginia and across our country.”

Nearly 850,000 Virginians rely on the SNAP program to feed themselves and their families. On average, SNAP lifts 112,000 people above the poverty line in Virginia, including 46,000 children, each year. SNAP also continues to support a robust national economy — increasingGDPby $1.50 for each new dollar in SNAP benefits.

The Spanberger-backed bill is endorsed by many Virginia organizations focused on combatting food insecurity — including the Capital Area Food Bank, Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, Federation of Virginia Food Banks, No Kid Hungry Virginia, and Virginia Hunger Solutions.

“Making nutritious food easier for our clients to access is always a top priority, and the Hot Foods Act helps to advance that goal,” said Radha Muthiah, President & CEO, Capital Area Food Bank. “For those we serve, time, access to kitchen space, and other constraints can all make it difficult to prepare the foods they receive through SNAP. This legislation helps to remove many of those barriers by allowing for the purchase of prepared hot foods, and will provide our clients in the 7th Congressional District of the Commonwealth with an important option for getting the food they need to thrive.”

“It only makes sense that those using SNAP benefits as a way to keep their families nourished have the chance to access hot and wholesome food choices so that convenience and option are added benefits afforded them through SNAP,” said Dan Maher, President & CEO, Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank. “Many of those benefitting from SNAP are also working long hours in tiring jobs, so access to the wholesomeness of hot, prepared foods to maximize the availability of sound nutrition and time for bonding around a family meal is an investment in their dignity and health.”

“More than 700,000 Virginians struggle with food insecurity. They are forced to make difficult choices every day about how to spend their precious few dollars on medical bills, child care, rent, utilities, or food,” said Eddie Oliver, Executive Director, Federation of Virginia Food Banks. “The Hot Foods Act will give our neighbors benefitting from SNAP, our nation’s front-line hunger relief program, the freedom to prioritize foods that are best for them and their families. We fully support dignity of choice for all households in need, whether they are visiting the grocery store or their local pantry.”

“SNAP serves as a lifeline to millions here in Virginia and across the country, and is a vital source of nutrition for kids,” said Sarah Steely, Director, No Kid Hungry Virginia, a campaign of Share Our Strength. “Many who rely on SNAP lack access to a full kitchen, face disabilities that make it challenging to prepare food, or simply live busy lives that – like all of us – make it necessary at times to buy prepared food. This bill offers the commonsense flexibilities that allow participants to make the choices that best feed their families.”

“Not allowing SNAP participants to purchase hot, prepared meals at the grocery store is arbitrary and hurts Virginia families,” said Cassie Edner, Director, Virginia Hunger Solutions. “This bill will help busy families and individuals with disabilities put nutritious meals on their table. Virginia Poverty Law Center would like to thank Representative Spanberger for introducing the Hot Foods Act and we urge other members of congress to vote yes on this bill.”

In addition to Spanberger, the bipartisan Hot Foods Act is led by U.S. Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-02).

Click here to read the full bill text.


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