The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a final rule today designed to ensure that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) standards on eligibility for students and restrictions for lottery winners and convicted felons are consistently applied, and that program integrity is secure.
The rule, published in the Federal Register, reforms SNAP by:
- Restricting SNAP eligibility for those with lottery and gambling winnings;
- Ensuring that exceptions to the prohibition on student SNAP eligibility focus appropriately on educational programs that deliver skills needed for the current job market;
- Requiring consistent use of a system of robust data verification technology for income, eligibility, and immigration status to protect integrity; and
- Implementing the statutory prohibition against SNAP receipt for certain convicted felons who are fleeing or otherwise not in compliance with the terms of their sentence or parole.
“Americans lose confidence in our oversight of the SNAP when there is a chance benefits go to millionaire lottery winners and convicted felons violating parole,” said USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps, “which is why I am pleased that we have completed action on this rule that strengthens integrity in this critical nutrition assistance program.”
States have long had the authority to impose a number of these requirements at their option but did not do so consistently. The final rule clarifies the specific standards for their implementation and reflects careful consideration of comments from program stakeholders.
This rulemaking is the latest in a series of actions that USDA has taken to promote integrity in SNAP, including:
- Modernization of the SNAP Quality Control system, which assesses the volume and causes of improper payments, through updated guidance and training for states to improve data quality;
- The SNAP Fraud Framework, a toolkit designed to help state agencies detect and prevent fraud, and to sharpen their investigative techniques; and
- Updating the Memorandum of Understanding between FNS and USDA’s Office of Inspector General to increase the expeditious investigation and pursuit of suspected SNAP retailer violations.
USDA will continue to work with all who are interested in its programs, their participants, and the taxpayers who make it possible, to ensure that every dollar invested in the program is used wisely.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.