Proposal to replace SNAP with food delivery program causes concern

Laura Christensen
February 14, 2018

In an effort to reform the nation's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the White House is suggesting that low-income families receive an "America's Harvest Box" of nonperishable foods each month to replace about half of the money they now receive through food stamps.

The Trump administration wants to get rid of almost half of some SNAP participants's monthly cash benefits and instead send them a box of food.

People who get what used to be called food stamps would lose the ability to choose some of the food they buy, but proponents say it would be a healthier program and save billions of dollars.

- President Trump's federal budget proposal includes a big change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program that provides food assistance for low-income families. Foods which could possibly be included in the proposed food boxes include grains, canned meats, fruits and vegetables, juice, peanut butter and other canned items. For the past 40 years, the Department of Agriculture has distributed benefits as either paper coupons or virtual disbursements on Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, allowing recipients to use them as cash on foods of their choice, and at their own grocery store. The Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released a joint statement Monday saying that the budget will not prevent them from doing their job of producing a Farm Bill that benefits farmers, consumers, and other stakeholders. The proposed food program would cut SNAP benefits by $17 billion next year.

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Instead of fresh fruits and vegetables, the program would prioritize canned goods. "It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants now receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers". "The proposal to cut SNAP is deeply troubling", said Kate Maehr, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, on Tuesday.

The Food Research and Action Center, a prominent non-profit group, told Politico the harvest box idea would be "costly, inefficient, stigmatizing, and prone to failure".

Indeed, issues such as allergies, bowel difficulties, and even simple preferences would invariably make the program a hard sell to food stamp recipients, much less to state governments that would have to implement such an initiative. The program slashes were announced after Trump provided corporate tax savings of more than $1.2 trillion annually. They feared it would upend a much-needed benefit for more than 80% of those in the program. But buying food in bulk also "lowers the cost to us", said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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