information provided by the Office of Robin Kelly
WASHINGTON, DC (July 15, 2020) – Last week Congresswoman Robin Kelly introduced the Expanding SNAP Options Act (H.R. 7535), companion legislation to S. 4202, introduced by Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth on July 2. The legislation would establish a digital portal to assist farmers and small, local grocers to accept SNAP benefits. It would also create Technical Assistance Centers to accelerate adoption of online purchasing and use of the portal for smaller retailers, direct-to-consumer farmers, and farmers’ markets, and provide public information about which local vendors participate in SNAP online purchasing.
“Growing up, my family owned a grocery store,” said Kelly. “I know how these places—where we buy the food to feed our family—are a central pillar in our communities. Unfortunately, current rules prevent most grocers and farmers from accepting SNAP benefits from customers for the healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables that families need.” Kelly believes the bill will ensure that all Americans can access healthy, fresh produce.
At present, the United States Department of Agriculture has expanded online SNAP benefits to 40 states, but participation is limited to two large national companies. Many small businesses, especially local and family-owned grocers, are unable to participate because of technological and financial barriers, despite their penetration in food deserts.
The bill was introduced with Representatives Bobby Rush (IL-01), Chuy Garcia (IL-04), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL) as original co-sponsors. It has won the endorsement of: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, Food Systems for the Future, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Hunger Free America, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, National Grocers Association, Chicago Food Policy Action Council, Farmers Market Coalition, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Ecological Farming Association, Pinnacle Prevention, Farm Aid, Slow Food USA, John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Sustainable Food Center, Just Food, Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, CDFI Coalition, National Farm to School Network, Reinvestment Fund, Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois Farmers Market Coalition, National Organic Coalition, Organic Farming Association, Friends of Family Farmers, National Young Farmers Coalition, Midwest Independent Retailers Association, Capital Impact Partners, Heartland Alliance, Chicago Jobs Council, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and Farmer’s Fridge.