WASHINGTON, DC – February 16, 2017– Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie G. Sarasin testified today during a U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee hearing on the operations of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the differences between a short-term hunger program as contemplated in SNAP, and a longer-term nutrition program as intended in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC). As the point of redemption for SNAP benefits, the grocery industry is particularly interested in ensuring the program runs as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

Sarasin said, “FMI’s maxim when referring to its member companies is ‘Feeding Families and Enriching Lives,’ a responsibility we take very seriously.” She emphasized that SNAP supports customers whose circumstances require them to rely on it for a season of their life, and for these individuals it is vital. In fact, 82 percent of all SNAP benefits in FY2015 went to households that included a child, an elderly person or an individual with disabilities. Sarasin focused on the role of food retailers as active and engaged partners as well as the social and economic costs associated with complex restrictions that do not achieve the program's policy goals.

“FMI and the grocery industry stand ready to work with the Committee and all interested parties to identify what works and doesn’t work in SNAP and how to best reach those goals,” Sarasin said. “Unfortunately, arbitrarily restricting products eligible for SNAP purchase increases the costs and burden not only to the federal government but also to their supermarket partners. At a time when we want to focus on creating jobs and developing a workforce, it doesn't make sense to increase costs of an industry that competes on a one to two percent annual profit margin.”

To access Sarasin’s full testimony, click here.