Sarbanes, Baltimore Congressional Delegation Ask USDA to Investigate Withdrawal of SNAP Eligibility for Lexington Market Vendors

Today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) joined U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings and Dutch Ruppersberger (all D-Md.), in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Brandon Lipps asking USDA to investigate the withdrawal of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility for vendors in Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market. Lexington Market has served as a public market since 1782 and is the oldest of its kind in the country.

The Members also asked USDA to assist the vendors with their concerns regarding SNAP eligibility and to assess the impact that the withdrawal of retailer eligibility will have on SNAP recipients’ ability to access the food they need. Additionally, the Members also asked USDA to work with the Market, its retailers and the community to help ensure that residents can use SNAP benefits in a meaningful and consistent manner.

“We write today regarding the withdrawal of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailer eligibility for several retailers operating out of Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market,” wrote the Members. “We ask that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigate the situation at Lexington Market and assist Lexington Market and its retailers with concerns regarding SNAP eligibility. Additionally, we request an assessment of the impact that the withdrawal of retailer eligibility will have on SNAP recipients’ ability to access the food they need.”

“The area in which Lexington Market operates is a historically low-income, food- and transportation-scarce area in which residents – many of whom already expend a higher proportion of their income to meet their basic needs – sometimes require nutrition assistance. Therefore, it is critical to have local retailers that provide healthy, accessible food for residents of the area – as well as the city as a whole – through the SNAP program,” the Members continued.