Federal Food Policy Update

We’re a state-level organization, but we usually find ourselves following federal legislation, regulations, and waivers throughout the year. In this way, and only this way, this year is no exception.

There are several bills in front of Congress that aim to increase access to online SNAP. The 2014 Farm Bill mandated a pilot to explore the feasibility and utility of allowing online purchases with SNAP. In 2017, eight retailers were selected, and in late 2019, online SNAP began rolling out in selected pilot states. As COVID-19 escalated, the pilot was expanded to include any states that chose to participate, bringing the total number of states to 45.

  • Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020 (H.R.7535/S.4202):  This bill establishes an “EBT Online Redemption Portal” app that allows SNAP participants to order online or delivery from local SNAP retailers and includes contracts for any for-profit or non-profit entity to participate in the development of the app and establishes a “SNAP Online Purchasing Technical Assistance Center” to provide State agencies, SNAP retailers, and participants with technical assistance, with appropriations of $75 million.
  • Local FARM Act of 2020 (S.4140): This bill increases the number of online SNAP retailers and increases grant funds to farmers markets, agricultural co-ops, and nonprofits that purchase crops from socially disadvantaged farmers.
  • Increasing Access to SNAP Delivery During COVID-19 Act of 2020 (H.R.6904/S.3736): This bill authorizes SNAP retailers to swipe EBT card with a mobile device for home deliveries or for in-store pickup during the COVID-19 and provides $500 million for delivery to seniors, immunocompromised individuals, or others unable to travel safely to a grocery store.
  • SNAP Online Purchasing Flexibility Act of 2020 (H.R.6510): This bill expands the program to approve retail food stores to accept through online transactions SNAP benefits.

Carolinas Farm Stewardship Association and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition have been really critical in their advocacy efforts, and we’re grateful to them for their leadership on these issues!

We’re also following proposals impacting school nutrition programs.

  • We’ve been following the many waivers that allowed our school nutrition programs to pivot into summer feeding and beyond so quickly in March. Unfortunately, we’re on the final days of most of those waivers here.
  • There has been a strong push for universal meals this year, led by FRAC, Feeding America, National PTA, and other national organizations. We aren’t seeing any indication that a universal meal bill will get traction yet, but the movement is exciting.

Here’s where you can learn more about these issues:

We’ll continue to keep you up to date!