Public-Private Partnership Works for All Stakeholders

ARLINGTON, VA — July 28, 2010 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

     Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government relations at FMI, told the committee that the SNAP program is successful because of the efficiencies that are now part of the program, such as the conversion to Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT).

     “EBT is an affordable payment solution that helps keep costs low throughout the system compared to other electronic payments, such as credit and debit cards, which have high-cost fees associated with them,” said Hatcher. “EBT has also been a positive development in the fight against SNAP fraud because it creates an electronic record for each transaction that makes fraud easier to detect.”

     “One of the greatest benefits to SNAP EBT users is the flexibility they have to shop across state borders. Portability and interoperability are critical components of the SNAP program everyday, but they are also invaluable assets to the program when regions of our country deal with natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods or snowstorms,” she said.

     Hatcher said SNAP EBT is a positive example of a public-private partnership that works and that has added efficiency for all stakeholders in the program – the state agencies, the retailers and the customers.

“With 1 in 8 Americans currently enrolled in the SNAP program – more than ever before in the history of our nation – it is critical that we continue to increase efficiencies in this already smoothly operating program in order to ensure low benefit administration costs, and most importantly to continue to ensure access to healthy and affordable foods for participants enrolled in the SNAP program,” she said.

Hatcher suggested additional ways to make the program more efficient including:

  • Improve uptime and require redundancy for processors and carriers.

  • Establish $25 floor limits for disasters.

  • Allow automatic hot foods waivers for disasters.

  • Release benefits early if a disaster is anticipated.

  • Encourage enhanced staggered issuance of benefits.

  • Incent/encourage/educate rather than penalize food choices.

Supermarkets are proud of their partnership with USDA and the state agencies to deliver safe, healthy and affordable foods to customers in need of assistance and they are committed to ensuring a pleasant and smooth shopping experience for SNAP customers.