USDA Explores the Release of SNAP Retailer Data

USDA Explores the Release of SNAP Retailer Data
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August 06, 2014

Depending on public feedback, retailers that accept food assistance benefits may be required to release now-confidential redemption data.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public comments on a proposal to make Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aggregate redemption data available under the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA). The proposal is the result of a pending court case brought on by a South Dakota newspaper that argued that the redemption information is public.

According to a report from Slate, taxpayers spent $76 million on the program last year, but the data to find out how much of that money went to retailers remains confidential.

SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, supplies monthly food assistance for more than 46 million low-income individuals, nearly half of which are children.

If released, journalists, food advocates and concerned denizens would be able to analyze the data to find out which retailers, large and small, are doing the most businesses in SNAP benefits.

"Our goal is to provide more transparency so that people can have access to basic information about the amount of SNAP benefits that individual grocery stores and retailers are redeeming," Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon said in a statement released by the USDA.

Comments may be submitted through the Federal Register until Sept. 8, 2014.