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SNAP reform: More than 100 lawmakers push for inclusion of Hot Foods Act in 2023 Farm Bill

Rebecca Barnabi
grilled cheese and bacon sandwich
(© Rubbina – stock.adobe.com)

The Hot Foods Act would allow SNAP beneficiaries to buy hot foods and prepared hot foods with benefits.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia is helping to lead more than 100 colleagues in the bipartisan effort calling on U.S. House and U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee leadership to include legislation in the 2023 Farm Bill to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to purchase hots foods through the program.

“Hundreds of thousands of Virginia households rely on SNAP to feed their families. But right now, an outdated provision prevents SNAP recipients from using their benefits to purchase hot foods — meaning working parents can’t purchase a hot sandwich or rotisserie chicken from the grocery store,” Spanberger, the only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, said. “SNAP recipients deserve to grocery shop for their families without arbitrary restrictions preventing them from purchasing the foods that best meet their lifestyle or dietary needs. I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in advocating for commonsense reforms to SNAP that will make sure Virginia families are able to purchase hot meals.”

Spanberger helped introduce the bipartisan Hot Foods Act, which would remove an outdated provision of the Food and Nutrition Act that limits SNAP purchases to foods designed for take-home preparation, or cold prepared foods. The bipartisan legislation introduced in May 2023 would remove this provision and allow SNAP dollars to be used to purchase hot and prepared foods ready for immediate consumption — which American consumers are increasingly relying on to feed their families.

Chairs and ranking members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Agriculture Committees wrote a letter encouraging inclusion of the legislation in the 2023 Farm Bill. The lawmakers underscored the support millions of Americans receive from SNAP and how their legislation would modernize the program to meet the present needs of families.

Nearly 850,000 Virginians rely on the SNAP program to feed themselves and their families. On average, SNAP lifts 112,000 people above the poverty line in Virginia, including 46,000 children, each year. SNAP also continues to support a robust national economy — increasing GDP by $1.50 for each new dollar in SNAP benefits.

The Hot Foods Act is endorsed by many Virginia organizations focused on combatting food insecurity — including the Capital Area Food Bank, Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, Federation of Virginia Food Banks, No Kid Hungry Virginia and Virginia Hunger Solutions.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.