In recent months, there have been proposals and discussions that could affect grocers nationwide. Here’s a run-down of potential WIC expansions, FDA traceability regulations, and a growing SNAP pilot program.
The USDA recently announced proposed changes to WIC packages to reflect guidelines from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The proposed changes aim to expand WIC recipients’ access to produce, whole grains, canned fish and beans, formula for mothers who are partially breastfeeding, and alternative proteins like tofu and eggs. The changes are being praised by industry leaders such as the Food Industry Association (FMI) and National Grocers Association (NGA). Comments on the plan will be accepted until February 21, 2023.
The FDA released new regulations for food traceability in grocery stores that are being met with pushback from the industry. The updated regulations call for increased recordkeeping for manufacturers, packagers, and retailers. It will require a sortable electronic spreadsheet for high-risk foods as they move through the supply chain.
The NGA and FMI have voiced concerns about the new regulations. Both groups agree that while increased food safety is always the goal, the new rules will disproportionately have a negative impact on small, independent retailers.
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In October, the USDA announced an expansion to a pilot program aimed at expanding dairy access to SNAP recipients. Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects (HFMIP) matches dollar-for-dollar purchases of healthy milk fluids at qualifying retailers. $3 million has been rewarded to Auburn University’s Hunger Solution Institute to expand the program to four additional states, some Indian Reservations, and 116 retailers.
“Expanding the SNAP Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects means greater access to affordable, nutritious dairy products for the most vulnerable Americans,” said International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M.
Creating more opportunities for your low and middle-income shoppers who rely on assistance to alleviate hunger can be as simple as ensuring your store is equipped to accept EBT on online grocery orders. Taking this step means your community members struggling with food insecurity have access to nutritious meals, which can build a more positive and trusting relationship with your consumers.
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