Congress is one step closer to making a commonsense fix to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that will make produce consumption easier for Americans, thanks to legislation introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). Senate bill S.2223, the Supporting All Healthy Options When Purchasing Produce (SHOPP) Act, would ensure that certain key nutrition programs include the promotion of fresh frozen produce for lower-income Americans. The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) thanks Sens. Cornyn and Luján for their leadership in introducing the legislation in the U.S. Senate on July 10. A companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced by Reps. Alford (R-MO) and Crockett (D-TX), H.R. 3127, has a range of bipartisan co-sponsors.
The Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) and the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) are important initiatives that can help close a produce intake gap among lower income households. However, GusNIP, its point-of-sale nutrition promotion programs and USDA’s Produce Prescription Program currently only fund projects that support the consumption of fresh produce. The SHOPP Act would amend and modernize these programs to help ensure equal consideration is given to frozen fruits and vegetables in these incentive programs.
“SNAP participants who live in areas that lack access to affordable produce shouldn’t be forced to go without the nutrients they need,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would make sure Texans can access frozen fruits and vegetables, and I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to support it.”
“Whether in rural or urban communities, SNAP participants deserve a program that meets their needs. The SHOPP Act will help ensure that everyone can bring home fruits and vegetables, no matter where they live,” added Sen. Luján. “This legislation will improve SNAP and enact simple solutions that make produce consumption easier.”
Under the SHOPP Act:
- The Secretary of Agriculture must consider GusNIP program grant applications/projects that promote or incentivize frozen fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP recipients.
- USDA must allow frozen fruits, vegetables and legumes to be included in the Produce Prescription Program. The program currently allows only fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Frozen food offers many benefits to families, helping to make mealtimes easier and more accessible. The SHOPP Act will help ensure that households can more easily achieve a healthy diet with SNAP and increase their produce consumption thanks to frozen fruits and vegetables,” said AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor. “We urge Congress to act now on the SHOPP Act to help families enjoy fruits and vegetables.”
In addition to offering nutritious produce options year-round, a recent survey also revealed that frozen food helps SNAP-eligible households cut back on their food waste thanks to the long shelf life and ability to prepare what they need. The survey revealed that 86% of SNAP-eligible shoppers indicated they cannot financially afford to waste food, and that frozen food ingredients help them save money because they are able to use the food over a longer time without the risk of spoilage.