Help Wanted: Ideas Sought To Reduce SNAP Trafficking

August 27, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

big-money-452697-mOne growing concern among officials at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service is trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp program. Trafficking is the exchange of benefits for cash or other ineligible items.

Recent FNS reports have found that the amount of SNAP trafficking has been growing in recent years, primarily due to the growing number of small- and medium-size retailers authorized to accept SNAP. A much larger amount of trafficking redemptions occurs at these retailers compared to larger supermarkets. In fact, the estimated dollar amount of trafficking rose significantly to $858 million in FY 2009-2011, from $330 million in FY 2006-2008.

Attempting to curb this fraud, waste and abuse, FNS recently finalized a rule amending the SNAP program to allow state agencies the right to deny a replacement request for an EBT card if they determine the request to be excessive.  The rule allows states to determine whether the request for a replacement card is legitimate or requires further investigation.

USDA also is seeking public input on establishing stricter “depth of stock” requirements for SNAP retailers in order to discourage schemers from entering and abusing the program. Interested parties can contact the agency to suggest ways to enhance retailer definitions and requirements to improve access to healthy food choices for SNAP participants and ensure that only those retailers that promote the purposes of the SNAP program are authorized to accept benefits.  FNS also seeks suggestions on potential policy changes and statutory changes for retailer authorizations. Comments may be submitted through Oct. 21 at Regulations.gov (Docket No. FNS-2013-0033).

In today’s Federal Register, FNS also announced five “listening sessions” to support this information request. It will host meetings to discuss ways to curb SNAP trafficking, beginning tomorrow, Aug. 28, in Ames, Iowa. Other meetings will be held Sept. 9 in Baltimore, Md.; Sept. 10 in Greenville, Miss.; Sept. 11 in Chicago, Ill.; and Sept. 16 in Los Angeles, Calif. If you have any worthwhile ideas, feel free to pass them on to FNS.

As the federal government continues its push to reduce fraud, waste and abuse, finding ways to combat SNAP trafficking is sorely needed.

Let us know if you have any ideas of ways to address SNAP trafficking. We’d like to hear from you.

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