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USDA could require healthier options for needy

Posted at 6:04 PM, Feb 16, 2016
If it wasn't for his food stamp card loaded with $193 a month, David Gofton said he wouldn't be eating regularly.
 
He has been homeless for more than a year and he shops mostly at small neighborhood stores, which means limited choices and an unhealthy diet.
 
Gofton welcomes news that the USDA plans to require all retailers that accept EBT cards to offer a wider variety of healthier  options.
 
"For sure,  Vitamin C, fruits vegetables that's all very good," Gofton said.
 
Under the current rules passed in 2014, stores that accept food stamp cards must stock three varieties of food in the four major food groups.
 
The new rules would bump that up to seven. In total there would be 168 food items per store.
 
Store owners would also have to agree to have the items continuously available.
 
For the larger stores a change of rules likely won't be that big of an issue. It's the mom and pop businesses  that could really feel it.
 
"We have a store that is only 1,100 square feet of retail space, so additional items that have a shorter shelf life makes it more difficult for us to cycle that stuff in and out.," said Dave Douct, who owns a Mobil Mart with his wife, Yadi. 
 
The couple is committed to stocking more fruit, milk and healthy snacks.
 
"I am looking at vendors that will provide us  fresh fruit. I am also I am looking into small salads," Yadi said.
 
The couple recently purchased the business and applied for approval to take EBT cards.
 
"There is a lot competition at these convenience stores. There is one at every corner. We would like to attract more customers, and we can be more of a one-stop shop," Dave said.
 
The couple is also committed to their Tampa community. They also want to help. They were surprised how many people rely on aid from the government to eat.
 
"I get asked at least 20 times a day on whether we accept the EBT card," said Yadi. "I just expected less people  to need them. And, I still do get a lot of professionals that  you might think need them still asking for food stamps. These are families in need, and we want to be there."
 
For Gofton, a chance to just feel better is priceless.
 
"It's very good for you and I am all for that," Gofton said.