The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
Legislation approved by the House and Senate this week that would temporarily suspend the nation’s debt limit would boost federal spending on SNAP while altering work requirements for participant eligibility.
The bill (H.R. 3746) would increase direct spending by $2.1 billion over the 2023-2033 period for SNAP due to its proposed changes to the work requirements for the food assistance program, according to a Congressional Budget Office assessment of the legislation.
The bipartisan debt ceiling deal would temporarily both raise the maximum age limit for people eligible to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months within a 36-month period — with those eligible required to work or attend a training program for a certain number of hours — and also make several groups, including people experiencing homelessness and veterans, exempt from SNAP work requirements.
The bill would also permanently cut back the number of monthly discretionary exemptions by states for work requirements and also stop states from having unused exemptions roll over into the next year.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that roughly 78,000 net new people would gain SNAP benefits in an average month between 2025 and 2030.
The White House has said it expects that the number of people subjected to the proposed new SNAP work requirements under the bill will be roughly the same as those who would newly receive work exemptions.
USA Today noted that expanding work requirements for SNAP was a main demand from House Republicans when negotiating the debt ceiling bill with the Biden administration and that the current bill does not go as far with the work requirements as Republicans originally desired.
The bill has received drawn criticism from hunger advocates and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).
Maryland Hunger Solutions, which works to address hunger and improve nutrition in the state, claims that the bill’s expansion of time limits for SNAP work requirements could cause more poverty and food insecurity for “thousands” of people in the state.
“This decision ignores the growing number of individuals with low incomes, and workers without health care, retirement income, or full-time employment, which does not let them escape poverty,” Michael Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, said in an emailed statement. “It also ignores the hunger cliff that is currently affecting over 675,000 people in Maryland with the end of SNAP Emergency Allotments in March.”
The UFCW, which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants and other industries, said in a statement that adding additional work requirements “is a direct threat” to the jobs that SNAP helps support.
The bill is on its way to the White House just weeks after pandemic-spurred SNAP emergency allotments ended.
In case you missed it
Loblaw announces end of third-party e-commerce marketplace
Only three and a half years after Loblaw launched its e-commerce marketplace, the Canadian grocery company is shutting down the program on June 14 and stop processing customer returns on July 31, according to a report by The Globe and Mail.
Loblaw’s marketplace, which began operating in November 2019, offer products from third-party sellers, including patio furniture, cooking supplies and small appliances, with a majority of these items shipped directly to customers’ homes.
The grocer sent out a memo last week to its sellers notifying them of the e-commerce platform’s end, noting that the grocer would shift its attention to focus more on its “core grocery and pharmacy online shopping experiences,” Catherine Thomas, a Loblaw spokesperson, said in an emailed statement to The Globe and Mail.
Texas’ new law addressing labeling for plant-based and cultivated meat
Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill requiring clear labeling of analogs of meat, poultry, seafood and eggs in addition to cultivated meat, sister publication Food Dive reported earlier this week.
The new law, which will take effect Sept. 1, “seeks to address the issue of unclear labeling” on products that look as well as taste similar to traditional animal-derived products, an analysis of the bill stated. Similar laws are gaining momentum in other states, but plant-based food companies and advocacy groups are challenging them.
Supreme Court revives lawsuit against SuperValu, Safeway
On Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously decided to revive lawsuits against the grocery chain and pharmacy company claiming that the retailers overcharged government healthcare program for prescription drugs by hundreds of millions of dollars, The Associated Press reported.
The issue stems back to 2006, when the two retailers matched Walmart’s offer to consumers of 30-day supplies of many generic drugs for $4 but charged Medicare and Medicaid higher prices. While the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals originally dismissed the suits on the grounds that the higher prices were “not objectively unreasonable” under the False Claims Act, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the appeals court applied the incorrect standard.
Number of the week: 5,100
That’s the number of workers grocers added to their payrolls in May, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total nonfarm employment rose by 339,000 last month, and the unemployment rate ticked up by 3.7%, the agency reported.
UNFI reports quarterly earnings
Investors will be closely watching the grocery retailer and wholesaler’s latest results, due Wednesday, for signs of improvement after the company’s profits plunged unexpectedly during its last quarter.
A local grocery store is luring a new customer base in with apples.
Staff at FreshPoint Local supermarket in Englandspotted a red panda running down the street and were able to lure her to safety with an apple, United Press International reported earlier this week. Shortly after the workers called to report their new customer’s whereabouts, police and zookeepers arrived at the scene, where the animal was safely recaptured and returned to the Newquay Zoo.
Rachel Craze, director of the grocery store, told ITV News Sundara “very much enjoyed the apple” FreshPoint Local treated her to.