SNAP needs more transparency

08/10/2012 09:40:00 AM
The Packer Editorial Board

Taxpayers deserve greater transparency from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

In the not-too-distant future, this transparency should benefit fresh produce as a highly nutritious component of the feeding program.

The need applies both to benefits paid to stores and the type of food purchased by participants.

Federal feeding programs should provide nutritious food, like fresh produce.

Retailers who try to traffic in food stamp benefits are targeted in a new proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The proposed rule will assess a fiscal penalty in addition to permanently removing any retailer found guilty of trafficking, the most serious of SNAP violations. The new statutory limit on fines is $100,000 per violation, up from $32,000 per violation now.

The new fines are considerable and should provide an overpowering deterrent to corporate fraud.

However, greater transparency of program data is needed as well. The USDA should provide a full accounting of all SNAP redemptions at all U.S. grocery stores participating in the program.

Having more eyes on the data could only help enforcement efforts.

Importantly, it is incumbent on the USDA to provide data on what foods SNAP benefits can purchase.

This data will help policymakers make adjustments and limits that ought to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among the most needy among us.

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