USDA proposes replacing food stamps with delivery service, added work requirements

14 February, 2018, 18:49 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • SNAP program would be replaced with meal kits according to Trump proposal

President Donald Trump announced plans to make major cuts to SNAP benefits on Monday during his budget request for 2019.

He compared "America's Harvest Box" to the upscale Blue Apron meal-kit delivery service, which provides lovingly assembled "farm-fresh seasonal produce, meat with no added hormones and sustainably sourced seafood" with which to prepare meals like salmon and dukkah-spiced vegetables, or creamy fusilli bucata pasta with fried rosemary.

Currently, people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) receive paper coupons or debit cards that they can use at a qualifying grocery store.

It's being called America's Harvest Box.

That box would include staples like shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, canned fruits and meats, and cereal.

Under the plan, more than 16 million households would see half of their benefits go toward the food box delivery program.

Tuesday was distribution day at the 6th street shelter food bank.

Unsurprisingly, food retailers objected to the budget's plans for SNAP. "The boxes also will not contain any fresh fruit or vegetables". Under the terms of the proposal, food boxes would go to households qualifying for more than $90 in food stamps, nearly 90 percent of SNAP recipients.

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Perdue called the proposal a "bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families".

"Despite significant economic improvements and a strong recovery in the job market, enrollment in welfare programs remains stubbornly high in many places around the Nation", President Trump stated to Congress.

This budget - including this proposal - is morally unsound. But buying food in bulk also "lowers the cost to us", said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget. The Trump administration said it wants to cut costs and that reducing the amount of money funding the SNAP program would save the country $17 billion next year, and billions more over a decade.

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.

Cuts to food snaps and other programs like it typically face a tough fight and could be removed by the agriculture committees, who typically take up any changes to the program in the Farm Bill that is reauthorized every five years.

This wouldn't be the first time the Trump administration tried to make huge changes to the SNAP program.

Critics say allegations of fraud are overblown - the current trafficking rate is roughly 1 percent, and more than half of participants are kids, elderly and disabled people who need the help.

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