White House plan would change food SNAP benefits for low-income people

Saul Bowman
February 14, 2018

Under the USDA America's Harvest Box proposal, all households that receive $90 per month or more in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps) would receive a package of "nutritious, 100-percent U.S. grown and produced food", the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced.

A proposal by the Trump administration that would save billions of dollars by fundamentally transforming the government's food stamp program into a "food box" program is generating hysterical reactions from the Left.

Unlike Blue Apron, which includes meat and produce, the food delivery box would include only shelf-stable foods like canned goods, rice and pasta, and other processed foods.

It's sure to be a sure money saver for the government as the box of food would be valued at about half the price of monthly food stamp benefits.

In the 2019 budget and in interviews with reporters, Trump officials say they want to cut those cash benefits in half and replace them with nonperishable food.

According to White House calculations, the government would save roughly $129 billion over the course of 10 years, though it appears states would be responsible for having to ship and get the food boxes to the SNAP recipients.

"We have seen a 12% increase in the number of people who said they eat fresh vegetables, about a 13% increase in the number of people who say they ate fresh fruit at least once per day", said Alison Czapp, Director of Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley.


The proposal at hand was tucked deep within the Trump administration's 2019 budget request released Monday.

Mitch Gruber, Chief Programs Manager at Foodlink says logistics alone, the plan would be hard to accomplish.

The food boxes would be called "America's Harvest Box". The decision would be based on nutrition standards used for other programs including the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

A spokesperson for USDA confirmed that states would oversee the packing and distribution of the boxes - and could not answer questions regarding what would happen if people were unable to receive mail at home, were homeless, or had transport or work issues stopping them from picking up the box. "We deal with different people of different backgrounds". Currently, SNAP allows Americans to spend their aid on food items of their own choice.

Gruber also says they send educators into community to help empower people with the tools to shop healthy on a budget, something this plan would counteract.

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.

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