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2/13/2014 6:00:00 AM
Food stamp changes part of recently passed farm bill
Industry leaders said stores shouldn’t have many problems meeting new requirements that would allow them to keep accepting food stamp benefits. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)
Industry leaders said stores shouldn’t have many problems meeting new requirements that would allow them to keep accepting food stamp benefits. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)
By Mauro Whiteman
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON - Convenience stores will have to start stocking a variety of "staple foods" alongside the snacks and fountain drinks if they want to keep accepting food stamps, under a little-noticed section of the farm bill.

The provision, tucked into the nearly 1,000-page bill signed into law Friday by President Barack Obama, would require that stores increase the "depth of stock" in four of those staples: bread or cereals, vegetables or fruits, dairy products, and meat, poultry or fish.

Convenience store chain officials said recently that they think they can meet the new standards. And nutritionists said they think it could lead to better food options for low-income shoppers.

But both said it will depend on the details of the regulations and how they are implemented.

"It sounds OK, but I don't know," said Kelly Jackson, a registered dietitian and professor at the University of Arizona's Department of Nutritional Sciences.

She sees potential hurdles for convenience stores that typically stock items that are "higher in fat, sodium, salt and sugar." She said one challenge could be convenience stores that are not equipped for the turnover rate of fresh produce, which may make increasing stock difficult.

"When you have candy in the checkout aisle instead of fruits and vegetables ... that's another challenge in a place like that," Jackson said.

Lyle Beckwith of the National Association of Convenience Stores said most members of the group's board of directors have told him they will carry more items if it is necessary to comply with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP, or food stamps.

"It will really come down to the individual store, whether they benefit from SNAP or not," said Beckwith, the association's senior vice president of government relations.

He said some stores may choose to increase their stock regardless of the amount of food stamps they accept, while others may see the costs outweigh the benefits.

Under the changes to the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, convenience stores that accept food stamps will now have to have at least seven items in each category of staple foods, up from three items per category that were required before. The changes also would require a perishable food item in at least three of the categories, up from two categories previously.

Beckwith could not provide hard numbers but believes that of the 2,220 convenience stores in Arizona, "a significant number accept and receive SNAP" benefits.

All 590 Circle K convenience stores in Arizona accept food stamps, and that is not expected to change under the new law, said Terry Brown, a Phoenix-based brand and marketing manager for the chain.

"Being able to accept SNAP is a privilege that we want to maintain," Brown said in an email. "So, we will do what we can to take care of our SNAP customers."

Mike Thornbrugh, the manager of public and governmental affairs for QuikTrip, said he thinks most of the company's convenience stores will be able to meet the new threshold. The chain has 104 stores in Arizona, primarily in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.

"We should be in pretty good shape, and, if not, we should be able to react fairly quickly" to meet the new requirements, Thornbrugh said.

Kristi L. King, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said that overall she was "happy with the increase in variety for SNAP participants."

"However, I hope that in the future requirements are made so that the stocking requirements meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans," she said.

King, who is a registered dietitian nutritionist, said education will be "essential" for both retailers and SNAP recipients.

"I have seen healthy options at the convenience stores, but consumers must remember that convenience stores are meant to supplement needs, not to be a full grocery store," King said. "One should not rely solely on convenience stores to do a majority of their shopping with their SNAP funds."

But in Arizona, reliance on convenience stores for groceries is higher than in other states because a high percentage of the state's population lives in "food deserts" - a low-income area with low access to grocery stores.

About 20 percent of Arizonans lived in food deserts in 2010, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service definition that counts people who live more than a half-mile from a grocery in urban areas and more than 10 miles in rural areas. That was about 5 percentage points more than the national average.

Only Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico had higher rates of people living in food deserts, based on the most recent USDA data, which compared 2010 Census numbers with a comprehensive list of supermarkets, supercenters and large grocery stores from that year.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014
Article comment by: kingman worker kingman worker

i just have to say why should people get whatever kind of food they want, when there not paying for it, the ones that are paying for ther food cant always get what they want. its ridiculious! and the people on here that have no problem with people abusing food stamps is cuz thr on it themselves. thers just no pride anymore. hand out! hand out!

Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

Quit complaining about food stamps. We all benefit from subsidies, so let's not complain about the poor getting some of that largesse for food and a few snacks.

Our current annual expenditure on food stamps (SNAP) is $80 billion. A pittance when our annual subsidy of big oil (fossil fuels) is $90 billion, $50 billion a year for nuclear power subsidies, $26 billion for renewable energy subsidies, and $100 billion a year for corporate welfare subsidies, as well as many others.

There are an additional $80 billion a year in various state subsides of business in the way of tax incentives, land purchase incentives and others.

Lest we forget there are $83 billion a year for banking subsidies with Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs take nearly 75% of that. Government granted medication patent monopolies give big pharma nearly $270 billion a year in subsidies.

This is but a part of the subsidies our government (i.e., Congress) gives away to the big boys in this country and doesn't even begin to touch the hundreds of billions of dollars given to the wealthy in lower taxes which then must be borne by the middle and lower classes. So let's not complain about a mere $80 billion a year to help out the poor and disadvantaged.



Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

"The answer is simple. None of you and your conservative friends will ever lift a finger to help those that are in need. You want the government to do it, just so you can complain about all those dollars going to waste."


There is empirical evidence that says your contention about conservatives and charitable giving is 100% wrong. Out of the political affiliations, conservatives overwhelmingly give more to charitable causes than liberals.


Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Article comment by: Nancy Rodriguez

Concerned Citizen:

Apparently you don't realize that the "government" you talk about is the conservative taxpayer who is sick of paying taxes to support generations of welfare leaches, not the occasional person who fell on hard times and had to use this help temporarily. Liberals have taken away the incentive to work and take care of your own family by making it too easy to sit at home and do nothing while on the government dole. When the drones outnumber the worker bees all hell will break loose.


Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Article comment by: J J

@buster Brown - Fact: They don't sell Prime beef in Kingman, Choice is the highest grade available. Trust me, I can't buy it here to save my life. Also, it is nobody's business what is in the shopping cart of others, period. Just because you're poor it doesn't mean you can't enjoy a steak or some chips once in awhile.

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Article comment by: buster brown

and there was a time when people had more pride than to ask for a handout. now it is demanded. churches have always tried to help those in need with soup kitchens and food boxes. and yes i have seen welfare cases with a basket piled high with luxuory foods. sodas, chips,cookies and prime cuts of beef. used to be a time when you had collard green budget, you ate collard greens and didnt expect your neighbor to feed you and yours. remember,back in the day, jesus fed a multitude with a few fish and some bread. not pringles, ice cream and orange crush.

Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2014
Article comment by: concerned citizen

One reader writes, " And in great measure we took care of one another."
Well. why don't you? You and all the other people that can't stand the welfare some people are receiving. Why don't you?

The answer is simple. None of you and your conservative friends will ever lift a finger to help those that are in need. You want the government to do it, just so you can complain about all those dollars going to waste.


Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Used to be, back in the day,…”

Oh boy, here we go! Sounds like Granpa Simpson, “Why I remember….”

“There was a stigma surrounding it.”

Yeah, people were wonderful about stigmatizing those who were out of work and needed assistance. Good Christians one and all.

“The word entitled did not exist as an excuse.”

It still is not an excuse except when some busybody decides to use it as such.

“The term under- employed did not exist. The only terms were employed or unemployed.”

Yep, those were the days when an employed person could make enough to provide for his family.

“And in great measure we took care of one another.”

See “The Great Depression.”

“There was no … minimum wage.”

See “Sweatshops”

“have you ever been at the super market and witnessed welfare cases buying items that working stiffs cant even afford?”

No, I have not and I’m willing to bet you haven’t either.


Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2014
Article comment by: Grocery Store on Hualapai Mountain Road

Yes to a grocery store on Hualapai Mountain Road.

Posted: Saturday, February 15, 2014
Article comment by: buster brown

have you ever been at the super market and witnessed welfare cases buying items that working stiffs cant even afford? the days of the usda boxes of staples isnt good enough anymore. welfare deserve rib eyes while the people paying for them eat chicken. you gotta love it.

Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014
Article comment by: Bye, George .....

@Doing research.....and last I heard and read, it's no different with the sugar industry. Heck, now I'm waiting to hear that those tea plantations in Assam and Darjeeling are U.S.-taxpayer subsidised, and the afternoon tea scene would be fully Americanised (leaving out the scones).

Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014
Article comment by: really wow

sorry i just have to add that i am a TAX PAYER = working person and have been since i was 16 years old and i receive foodstamps so not everyone who receives foodstamps are just sitting on their butt not working ...just saying

Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014
Article comment by: J J

This is hilarious. A bunch of "real americans" telling others how they should eat. But when Michelle Obama does it, she's a communist/socialist and should stay out of our private affairs. You guys are a laugh a minute.

Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014
Article comment by: Uncle Anson

Used to be, back in the day, people had pride and a work ethic. There were what was called " commodities". The program was called welfare or assistance.You got powdered milk, cheese, canned meat ( spam ) flour, sugar, and basically what was needed to feed your family. People did not advertise that they were on " assistance". There was a stigma surrounding it. A social stigma that said " I need to find a job and provide for my family". And guess what, they did. Maybe no more or no better than " assistance" but they provided. The word entitled did not exist as an excuse. The term under- employed did not exist. The only terms were employed or unemployed. A lot of things were luxuries like chips or candy or soda pop or store bought cereals for example. You worked and climbed back up the ladder. And in great measure we took care of one another. There was no term called income or wage or earnings equalization or minimum wage. You made decisions and suffered or enjoyed the consequences. There was no government entitlement program to excuse the lazy. Back then, lazy was the exception and not well tolerated by society. Some how, someway, we, as a people, have lost individual accountability. And please no ignorant excuses of blaming it on any political party.

Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

"... but you keep talking about those food stamps )"

You don't want to acknowledge that food stamps are a huge issue so you throw a different issue up, (farm subsidies ), as a red herring.

80% of the Farm Bill was food stamps. It seems to me that is the bigger issue here.

Your analysis on the subsidies that the "large factory farms" receive is flawed as well. The subsidies, according to the way you present them, actually benefit millions of Americans more than these large factory farms you complain about.
Dairy subsidies actually came about because there was an over abundance of milk which caused the price to fall so low that the dairy farmers couldn't afford to stay in business. The government paid them not to produce milk.

If the government had stayed out of the subsidy business, some dairy farms would have stopped producing milk, and the ones that were running better, (the principles of evolution here), would have stayed in business and the supply would have moved into line with demand and prices would have corrected them selves.


Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014
Article comment by: Thai Mai Shu

Write to your Senator and Congressman and tell them to support PHOTO IDENTIFICATION for all food stamp recipients.

Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014
Article comment by: Justa Citizen

While I don't agree with corporate welfare either, this particular article was about food stamps so I will keep to that subject.
It has been the typical p-poor operated program from government since the 2nd inception of it back in the 60's. Like most programs there is very little restriction and no oversight to even attempt to make sure it is going to the right people and being used as intended.
When you see people dressed to the nines buying steak, pop, cookies, etc and driving off in a new $50,000+ vehicle, you have to wonder if maybe something is wrong here.
Obviously there needs to be closer control over who gets the food stamps but I don't see how anyone can be against them only being used for decent healthy food that would be on the average Americans menu.
Since some people seem so concerned about what other people are eating and drinking who actually pay for it themselves (large sodas in NYC) than why would they be against helping those on food stamps eat a healthy diet.


Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Ya

"The way to fix the issue is to only allow healthy foods to be purchased with TAX PAYER Money."

The way to fix it is to have "EBT ONLY" lines! Other customers could use it but the EBT customers can only use EBT lines. That way you can kick back items, beer, candy, etc... And then of course require a picture ID at the checkout with their card. I don't think a EBT store ONLY would be very profitable and a bad idea.


Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Article comment by: Allan Gleason

Most of Kingman is a "food desert" with a cluster of centrally located supermarkets (5) located within an area of 1.6 miles! I live within Kingman city limits but the nearest store to my home, "the old" Safeway, is 4 miles away!

At 83, I dislike driving into the heart of the cluster such as to Smiths or Wall-Mart. We need a supermarket on Hualapai Mountain Rd.... the land is there and it is certainly for sale!



Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Article comment by: Doing Research

I'm sure this article will elicit numerous "I can't stand this socialism!" comments.

Please keep in mind that HALF the price of a gallon of milk is subsidized by the Farm Bill.

The REAL price of milk is $7 a gallon. People like me, who don't drink milk, pay about 50 cents of the $3.50 subsidy on each gallon.

For the small farmers? Nope, for large factory farms.

For your benefit? No. It's a cash transfer. Like food stamps for rich people.

You're actually paying $7 a gallon, but they take the money from you one part at a time. $3.50 at the store, $3.50 from your taxes.

... but you keep talking about those food stamps )


Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Article comment by: Nice Try

If you think stocking healthy items in a convenience store will make any measurable impact your address is fantasy land. The way to fix the issue is to only allow healthy foods to be purchased with TAX PAYER Money..( tax payers can also be referred to as working people).

Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Article comment by: Carol Ann Rivera-Miller

As an herbalist, I have always supported healthier food intake. Teaching the youth to build good nutritional foundations is an answer. The treats are fantastic for occasional enjoyment. What would be wonderful if all this consideration for proper food choices would overflow to be available at the Health Food Stores! More people would shop there if they could encourage their assistance programs to approve this too.
We must also be thankful for the Church organizations in our areas. NO ONE WILL STARVE IN MOHAVE COUNTY! The FREE meals they serve. The commodities given out to those getting started. The guidance given to new residents for the resources available. All the programs that were created ONLY to be cut again, won't interfere with the communities who already know how to work with each other and survive. Make up your minds, Government....we have!


Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Article comment by: just a fact

Wouldn't it be smarter to make it impossible to buy candy, pop, chips,etc. with food stamps?

Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Article comment by: gun guy

the only thing EBT card should be good for is milk bread meat cerealcheese and fresh fruit other than that items are luxury no more candy soda donuts junk food of any kind what they want to buy that stuff get a job and pay for like the rest of us



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