WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), Congressman Andrew Garbarino (NY-02), and Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) announced the introduction of their bipartisan Hot Foods Act.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) contains an outdated provision that limits SNAP purchases to foods designed for take-home preparation and consumption, or cold prepared foods. The bipartisan Hot Foods Act would remove this prohibition allowing families to use SNAP benefits to purchase hot foods such as prepared rotisserie chickens, hot sandwiches, and soups.
“Millions in the United States rely on SNAP to supplement their purchase of healthy and nutritious foods, and those families deserve greater flexibility with how they are able to utilize their benefits,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Especially for our workers and families on-the-go, prepared foods are a good and readily available source of nutrition. I am proud to partner with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in introducing the Hot Foods Act to reasonably expand food options and continue to strengthen the impact of SNAP for those who deal with food insecurity each day.”
“Families throughout America rely on SNAP benefits to make sure they have enough food for their children. Restricting a working mom by only allowing her to buy a frozen rotisserie chicken, but not a hot prepared one, is nonsensical and wrong,” said Congresswoman Meng. “The Hot Foods Act simply removes the prohibition from purchasing hot foods in SNAP. This reform will provide recipients the flexibility they need to provide the most nutritious meal possible to their family. I look forward to streamlining this program for the more than millions of SNAP recipients in the United States.”
“Right now, a working mom struggling to feed her family is permitted to purchase a cold sandwich for her kids using SNAP benefits but prohibited from buying soup or a rotisserie chicken to ensure they get a hot meal,” said Congressman Garbarino. “It makes little sense to continue to impose an arbitrary and outdated restriction on the use of SNAP benefits to purchase hot foods when the ability to do so could make a significant difference to so many families. I am proud to co-lead the Hot Foods Act to implement common sense reforms to the SNAP Program that will ensure Long Island children are able to receive healthy, hot meals using these benefits.”
“Right now, working Virginians can’t use SNAP benefits to buy warm chicken or prepared soup from a grocery store. That means a single parent on their way home from work can’t swing by the store and pick up a rotisserie chicken using SNAP dollars,” said Congresswoman Spanberger. “Allowing SNAP recipients to use the dollars already afforded to them by this program to put hot food on the table is an economical way to spend these dollars. I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in recognizing how these increased flexibilities both benefit our neighbors and strengthen SNAP — a program that feeds millions of families, children, seniors, Veterans, and Americans with disabilities in Virginia and across our country.”
Of the more than 42 million SNAP participants, almost 70 percent of participants are children, elderly, or those with disabilities. The ability to purchase hot foods or hot foods ready for immediate consumption would provide enormous flexibility to those who rely on this program to supplement their nutrition and dietary needs.
"Too many individuals and families who struggle to make ends meet miss out on the nutrition they need because they lack access to a kitchen or because they have difficulty preparing their own meals," said Luis Guardia, President of the Food Research & Action Center. "The Hot Foods Act would go a long way in closing this gap by allowing SNAP households to conveniently purchase hot prepared foods at grocery stores. This is a long overdue and critical step to ensure equity in the marketplace. We applaud Reps. Meng, Fitzpatrick, Garbarino, and Spanberger for their leadership on the Hot Foods Act and urge Members of Congress to sponsor and enact this commonsense legislation."
“Children deserve access to nutritious food, without unnecessary stipulations or arbitrary barriers. Allowing SNAP recipients to purchase hot foods allows parents who may be working multiple jobs or experiencing housing insecurity to still provide hot and nutritious meals that their children need,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children. “Access to adequate nutrition is vital for our children’s health and well-being, and First Focus Campaign for Children applauds Reps. Meng, Fitzpatrick, Garbarino, and Spanberger for ensuring that SNAP keeps food on kids’ tables, regardless of circumstances.”
“SNAP is the most effective hunger-relief program in the U.S., but there are steps lawmakers can take to modernize the program and make it work even better for eligible individuals and families,” said Vince Hall, Chief Government Relations Officer Feeding America. “Feeding America supports the Hot Foods Act, which would give people the option to use their SNAP benefits to purchase hot and prepared foods. This important change would provide additional flexibility for families, seniors and people with disabilities to choose the foods at the grocery store that best meet their dietary needs.”
“It’s absurd that if there are two chickens side by side in a supermarket – one cold and one hot but both the same size, same brand, and same price – struggling Americans who rely on SNAP can now buy the cold one but not the hot one, even though they would need to spend extra money to heat up the cold one,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America. “We thank Reps. Meng, Fitzpatrick, Garbarino, and Spanberger for their leadership in working to end this ridiculous policy.”
“Island Harvest Food Bank is pleased to wholeheartedly endorse the bipartisan Hot Foods Act introduced by local New York Congressional Representatives Grace Meng and Andrew Garbarino, and Representatives Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Spanberger of Virginia,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, President & CEO of the Long Island-based Island Harvest Food Bank. “Any legislation that removes barriers in the SNAP program and provides greater access to ready-to-eat foods is an important step in helping provide much-needed supplemental food support for people who are food insecure.”
"Regardless of income, all families should be allowed to use their grocery budgets to access the food they need and want in a desirable and usable form. With so many families struggling to find time to prepare meals or to navigate limited kitchen space, the Hot Foods in SNAP Act will help more of our New York City neighbors put dinner on their tables and will make food assistance more equitable," said Jilly Stephens, CEO of City Harvest. "We applaud Representative Meng for her leadership on this issue and implore our leaders in Washington, D.C. to ensure it is reflected in the 2023 Farm Bill."
The bill is endorsed by: Food Research & Action Center, First Focus Campaign for Children, Feeding America, Hunger Free America, Island Harvest Food Bank, City Harvest, NYC Food Bank, Island Harvest, Long Island Cares Inc., Share Our Strength, the National Association of Convenience Stores, California Association of Food Banks, and GRACE/End Child Poverty California.
Read the bill here.