By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Beginning this week, neighborhood convenience stores will have to pay a price to accept food stamps, thanks to new federal regulations that went into effect last month.
For ten years, the federal government has footed the bill on the swipe-card machines that mom-and-pop grocers use to accept electronic food stamps. But not anymore.
Selinetta Rodriguez, who runs the Pollo Food Market at 10th and Brown Streets in North Philadelphia, says it will cost her business an additional $75 per month for one of the card readers, since they don’t accept any credit cards.
She says the fee will cut into her profits, but there’s no other choice.
“We have to keep it because half of the community won’t be able to shop — they won’t be able to buy anything,” she says.
Many bodega owners are waiting to decide whether to forego Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) transactions, or raise their prices to offset the additional cost of the card reader.
“They certainly may pass that cost on to customers, but they certainly may decide not to accept SNAP,” notes Kathy Fisher of the Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. She says this will impact 1,500 stores in Philadelphia and could limit food acess to the elderly and disabled, “even if your area has other stores and you can get to them.”