New USDA Proposed Nutrition Rule May Present Opportunity for Rice

Man paying for groceries in store line
Making healthy food choices on a budget
Feb 17, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced a proposed rule designed to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants increased access to healthy foods by requiring stores that accept SNAP to stock a wider array of food choices.

SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program accounting for 79 percent of Farm Bill costs at $756 million.

"USDA is committed to expanding access for SNAP participants to the types of foods that are important to a healthy diet," Concannon said.  "This proposed rule ensures that retailers who accept SNAP benefits offer a variety of products to support healthy choices for those participating in the program."

The proposed rule would require SNAP-authorized retailers to offer seven varieties of qualifying foods in four staple food groups for sale on a continuous basis.  The staple food groups are dairy products; breads and cereals, which includes rice; meats, poultry and fish; and fruits and vegetables.  In addition, the proposal calls for retailers to stock at least six units within each variety, leading to a total of at least 168 required food items per store.

While the majority of SNAP benefits are redeemed in supermarkets and superstores, this proposal could provide a new opportunity to expand rice distribution in retailers accepting SNAP, and potentially increase rice products on shelves.