Bennet Introduces Bill to Help Low-Income Families, Seniors Buy Nutritious, Hot Meals

Washington, D.C. — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet introduced the Hot Foods Act to help low-income families and seniors purchase cold prepared foods, heated foods, and hot meals using their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. 

“SNAP is one of the most effective tools for reducing food insecurity and combating poverty. It’s past time that Congress cuts unnecessary red tape in the program that prevents Americans from using their SNAP benefits to buy prepared and hot foods to feed their families,” said Bennet. “This bill will make things a little easier for working families, single parents, people with disabilities, and seniors to put food on the table — and I’ll work with anyone in Congress to fight hunger and poverty in every way we can.” 

Of the more than 42 million SNAP participants, almost 70 percent of participants are children, elderly, or those with disabilities. The ability to purchase hot foods or hot foods ready for immediate consumption would provide enormous flexibility to people who rely on this program to supplement their nutrition and dietary needs.

Currently, SNAP contains an outdated provision that limits low-income families and seniors’ ability to use their benefits to purchase foods designed for take-home preparation and consumption, or cold prepared foods. The Hot Foods Act removes this prohibition and allows families to use their SNAP benefits to purchase hot foods such as prepared rotisserie chickens, hot sandwiches, and soups.

“As a statewide anti-hunger nonprofit that works directly with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, Hunger Free Colorado expresses strong support for Senator Bennet’s proposed bill to lift the existing ban on hot foods in SNAP. Current federal SNAP rules, which prohibit SNAP households from purchasing hot prepared foods, limit household choice and reduce access to nutritious foods. Our community members have shared with us the positive impact that access to hot foods would have on their lives, with working parents stating that the ability to purchase a hot meal would free up time and allow them to spend more quality time with their children. Caregivers have shared that access to hot foods is important to ensuring that older adults and persons with disabilities can still access a balanced meal without needing caregiving assistance, and individuals experiencing homelessness have expressed how nourishing a warm meal would be before a cold night. Lifting the existing ban on hot foods is a commonsense measure that would expand our communities’ access to nutritious foods by allowing households to exercise greater choice over the food they and their families consume. We are grateful to Senator Bennet for championing this effort in the Senate, and look forward to continuing to work together to end hunger one step at a time,” said Marc Jacobson, CEO, Hunger Free Colorado.

"We all here at Nourish Colorado let out a collective hip-hip-hooray when we learned about the Senator's intention to lead a hot foods for SNAP bill. Our work focuses on increasing equitable access to nutritious foods for all Coloradans. The ban on being able to use one's SNAP benefits on healthy, prepared food items has long created barriers for some of the vulnerable populations such as the unhoused, elders, those with physical disabilities, and not to mention busy working parents hoping to feed their kids easy but healthy foods," said Wendy Peters Moschetti, Executive Director of Nourish Colorado. 

“The Hot Foods Act would ensure equity in the marketplace by permanently ending the outdated prohibition on the use of SNAP benefits to purchase hot prepared foods from grocery retailers,” said Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). “It's long overdue for SNAP customers who lack kitchens or the ability to prepare meals to be able to eat hot food. It will also make it easier for retailers to respond to disasters as they will already be active in providing resources. We commend Senator Bennet (D-CO) for introducing this bill, which will be a game changer for families and retailers. Congress must act now to pass this legislation. Hungry people can't wait.”

“SNAP has played a key role in ensuring that Americans are able to put food on the table for decades, but it has not always kept up with the ways that families do so. Fundamentally, this bill will allow folks to feed their families in the best way they see fit. It simply makes sense to give SNAP households the same options other families have, considering how busy families shop and prepare food these days,” said Eric Mitchell, Executive Director of the Alliance to End Hunger.

This legislation is supported by: Hunger Free Colorado, Nourish Colorado, Feeding Colorado, Food Research & Action Center, First Focus Campaign for Children, Feeding America, and Hunger Free America.

In addition to Bennet, this bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). U.S. Representatives Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The text of the bill is available HERE. A summary of the bill is available HERE.