Fighting Discrimination: How to Report Retailers Who Discriminate Against Food Stamp Users

Carlos Rodriguez
Published Dec 6, 2023


In recent news, it has come to light that some retailers are discriminating against individuals who use SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, commonly known as food stamps.

The District of Columbia's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has issued a warning to retailers, stressing the importance of not discriminating against SNAP participants.

Let's shed light on the issue and provide practical guidance on reporting discriminatory behavior while emphasizing the role of organizations in supporting affected individuals.


Understanding the Problem

Instances have been reported where SNAP participants were unable to purchase food using their benefits due to unjust restrictive practices implemented by certain retailers.

These practices include requiring a minimum balance on the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card before making a purchase, setting a minimum transaction amount, or even charging transaction fees for SNAP purchases.


Knowing Your Rights

It is crucial for SNAP participants to be aware of their rights and to understand that these discriminatory practices are against the law.

Under the SNAP program, retailers are prohibited from:

  • charging transaction fees
  • setting minimum transaction amounts for SNAP purchases
  • requiring a minimum SNAP balance
  • obligating SNAP users to check their balance before making a purchase


Reporting Discrimination

If you believe you have experienced discrimination or witnessed such practices while using your SNAP benefits, it is essential to report these incidents promptly.

The Office of the Attorney General in Washington, D.C., has set up a Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-202-442-9828. Additionally, complaints can be submitted via email at consumer.protection@dc.gov or through the online complaint submission system.


Promoting Awareness and Compliance

To reinforce the rights of SNAP participants and ensure compliance among retailers, the Office of the Attorney General has issued consumer alerts and business advisories emphasizing the importance of adhering to SNAP requirements.

Complaints received by the OAG are forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the SNAP program, and federal officials take steps to ensure retailers come into compliance.


Finding SNAP Retailers

To locate SNAP retailers in your area, the USDA provides a helpful SNAP Retailer Locator tool.

This resource enables individuals to identify authorized retailers and access their SNAP benefits without facing discrimination or unfair practices.


Conclusion

Discrimination against individuals using SNAP benefits is a serious issue that must be addressed to guarantee equal access to essential nutrition. By understanding their rights and promptly reporting instances of discrimination, SNAP participants can play a pivotal role in combating these unfair practices.

Let us stand together to eradicate discrimination and ensure that every person has access to the nutritious food they deserve.

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