With their Republican trifecta held in check in November, Wisconsin leadership has put together an agenda that holds many conservative reforms, including SNAP. In their agenda, Assembly Republicans have said they will pursue placing a photo ID on all EBT cards and they will work to ensure that if someone receives assistance to purchase food, “a significant portion of that food is nutritious.” In addition, they will work to put a “reasonable limit” on the number of replacement cards someone can receive; screen for substance abuse; send all public assistance recipients an annual statement of benefits; which, they say, is a tangible and streamlined way of knowing how much help they received and from which programs. Here is a copy of the agenda.
Earlier this week, the Boston Globe reported that USDA dispatched agents to Massachusetts in August to investigate concerns on the implementation of a new state law regarding photos on SNAP EBT cards. On December 2, USDA sent a follow up letter to Massachusetts state agency staff on the findings of these concerns.
Specifically, USDA has “significant concerns” dealing with program access, staff communications and training, and also retailer communications and training from the state. In the letter, USDA specifies corrective actions that must be taken.
Regarding retailers, FNS is concerned that state agency at all levels believe that retailers must check the card at the POS to ensure the purchaser is the person pictured on the card. This puts Massachusetts in violation of the Food and Nutrition Act. In the letter, USDA directs the state to communicate to retailers that anyone authorized to use the card may use the card without having to submit to additional verification of identity, as use of the unique PIN associated with each card is sufficient verification of identity. Therefore, all household members and authorized representatives not pictured on the card can continue to access benefits. View USDA’s letter here.
The Massachusetts Food Association has informed their members from the inception of this law that nothing has changed with regard to accepting EBT photo ID cards; stores cannot and should not be asking to see the card if the customer knows the PIN and enters it correctly.
In November, USDA sent a similar letter to Maine, which has also implemented a photo requirement on the SNAP card. Here is the Maine letter. In addition, the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association reports that the Governor of Maine is expected to continue his efforts to reform Mainers’ generational dependency on “welfare” programs. A bill will likely include a sales prohibition on taxable foods items such as candy and soda under SNAP. There is keen interest amongst lawmakers as well to reduce a SNAP recipient’s ability to “spend” tax payer’s money on these types of foods.
Every week FMI's Local Monitoring Report tracks six issues of particular importance to the supermarket industry at the local level:
Last week, the Sunnyvale, California City Council voted to introduce an ordinance that requires Sunnyvale employers to pay a minimum wage of $10.30 per hour starting January 1, 2015, and include an annual adjustment to the minimum wage on the first of every year, based on the prior year's Consumer Price Index. The council also voted to include a resolution to work with the city of Mountain View on a regional $15 an hour minimum wage by 2018.
(2) A city, county, or other local public agency … that, before September 1, 2014, has passed a first reading of an ordinance or resolution expressing the intent to restrict single-use carryout bags and, before January 1, 2015, adopts an ordinance to restrict single-use carryout bags, may continue to enforce and implement the ordinance that was in effect before January 1, 2015.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) announced this week they will file a proposed referendum that would postpone implementation of the California bag ban until November 2016, so voters could decide its fate.
(From FMI's Local Monitoring Report).
In July 2013, USDA announced the results of USDA's Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) which took place between November 2011 and December 2012 in Hampden County, Massachusetts. The results were positive and USDA discussed additional steps USDA and its partners could take to encourage SNAP recipients to purchase healthy foods. This week, USDA announced a $31.5 million fruit and vegetable program for SNAP, so that recipients can more easily afford healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, a new Farm Bill program, brings together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system and fosters understanding of how they might improve the nutrition and health status of SNAP households. Under FINI, applicants may propose relatively small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, or larger-scale multi-year projects.
California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags on Tuesday. The bill, S.B. 270, cleared the legislature in late-August, in the final hours of the legislative session. It commanded the support of a wide range of industry, labor and environmental groups, including the California Grocers Association (CGA).
USDA announced this week that $5 million in grant funds were awarded to seven states to identify, track, and prevent misuse of SNAP benefits by recipients. The SNAP Recipient Trafficking Prevention Grant Program was designed to improve outcomes in the prevention, detection, and prosecution of recipient trafficking. The grantees are:
Florida - $345,576
Kentucky - $1,189,890
Missouri - $599,642
Ohio - $15,000
Oregon - $314,844
Tennessee - $1,484,618
Washington - $750,984
The states will implement strategies to improve the effectiveness of integrity monitoring efforts and increase the number of investigations of recipients suspected of trafficking SNAP benefits. For example, Oregon is combining analytics and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to better target fraud related to excessive EBT card replacement requests. The state of Washington is using innovative strategies to monitor and investigate fraud occurring via social media and e-commerce websites.
According to USDA, the vast majority of SNAP recipients and retailers abide by the rules. Read more in this week's State Issues Report.
» Facts & Figures
Get a daily briefing on top stories in food retailing, FREE.
© 2014 Food Marketing Institute. All rights reserved.
2345 Crystal Drive, Suite 800,
Arlington, VA 22202
Association Web Design and Development by Matrix Group International, Inc. ®