Washington, D.C. – Under a proposal in the president’s newly released budget for 2018, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), or the program formerly known as Food Stamps, would significantly affect recipients receiving more than $90 a month in benefits. They would be given half their benefits in the form of a “Harvest Box” full of food pre-selected for nutritional value and economic benefit to American farmers.
According to the plan, this would include items such as shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit, vegetables, and meat, poultry or fish. All of it would be from the U.S. The remainder of their benefit would go on the SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card for use at approved grocery retailers.
It is unclear whether this proposal will affect food stamp recipients’ ability to purchase multivitamins. Currently they cannot purchase vitamins with food stamps.
As we reported back in July, legislation was introduced which would make multivitamin dietary supplements an allowable purchase for the 8 million people receiving assistance through the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children (WIC). In September a new piece of legislation was introduced by Representative Mike D. Rogers (R-AL) and co-sponsored by Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mia Love (R-UT), and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), that would amend Section 3 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to make multivitamin-mineral dietary supplements eligible for purchase with supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits.
The SNAP Vitamin and Mineral Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 3841) defines a multivitamin-mineral dietary supplement as “a substance that provides at least half of the vitamins and minerals for which the National Academy of Medicine establishes dietary reference intakes, at 50% or more of the daily value … as determined by the Food and Drug Administration; and does not exceed the tolerable upper intake levels for those nutrients for which an established tolerable upper intake level is determined by the National Academy of Medicine.”
Regardless of what changes are made to the SNAP program, including multivitamins in SNAP benefits is crucial to low-income Americans’ health and well-being, says Mike Greene, Senior VP, Government Relations of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). “CRN believes that all Americans should have access to the benefits of a multivitamin-mineral dietary supplement. Individuals on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) should be allowed the choice to use their benefits to purchase a multivitamin-mineral dietary supplement. Whatever the requirements are to obtain SNAP benefits and whatever policy changes USDA and Congress agree to make to the SNAP program, CRN continues to believe that inclusion of a multivitamin-mineral dietary supplement in the SNAP program makes sense. It empowers program recipients with a choice for better nutrition and the ability to make healthier nutrition decisions. SNAP policy should facilitate and not impede the efforts of individuals in obtaining good nutrition and health and wellness.”
As reported on Bloomberg, shares of Dollar Tree Inc. and Dollar General Corp. both dropped on Monday after the plan was unveiled. These are not likely to be stores approved for future SNAP purchases.