USDA Takes Action Against California Retailers for Rules Violations
SAN FRANCISCO, April 26, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced it has taken action against 37 California retailers suspected of violating USDA rules for accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. The majority of participating SNAP stores are compliant with FNS rules and regulations. Additionally, the rate of trafficking among stores, which is the exchange of SNAP benefits for U.S. currency or other things of value, is about 1.6%.
However, today, FNS announced it has notified 37 retailers in California that they have violated SNAP regulations and as a result will be initiating action to revoke the authorization for these retailers to accept SNAP benefits. Fifteen stores are charged with trafficking based on an undercover investigation, seven are charged with trafficking based on a data analysis investigation, and 15 are charged with selling ineligible items on an undercover investigation, which could lead to a six-month disqualification if FNS findings are upheld. After all due process has been completed, FNS will provide a follow up release with additional and updated information, including the names of retailers disqualified from the program.
USDA monitors SNAP purchases at retail food stores suspected of violating program rules and regulations, including trafficking and allowing the purchase of ineligible items. After concluding positive investigations, USDA takes administrative action to ensure store owners who violate SNAP rules and regulations can no longer participate in the program.
“While most retailers comply with federal rules and regulations, USDA will not tolerate any retailer abusing this vital program that helps millions of Americans put food on the table,” said USDA Food and Nutrition Service Acting Administrator Cindy Long. “Today, we are taking appropriate action against these retailers, and we are confident this will deter other retailers from committing similar violations.”
Retailer fraud can be reported via the USDA hotline at (800) 424-9121, online or via email at SNAPRetailerComplaints@usda.gov
All told, in Fiscal Year 2020, FNS implemented 2,192 administrative sanction actions against SNAP retailers. These actions stem from findings of program violations and include 1,144 retailers being permanently disqualified for trafficking.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov.
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