Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has proposed cutting or adding restrictions to benefits like Medicaid. And now, the Trump administration has suggested eliminating a portion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — aka food stamps — in favor of a program that would deliver nonperishable food to families.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney praised the idea as a “Blue Apron-type program” during a February 12th press briefing. The program, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has named “America’s Harvest Box,” was included in Trump’s budget plan. The changes would affect households that qualify for $90 or more in SNAP assistance, which is about 81 percent of people who use the program. Currently, SNAP recipients can choose what to buy at a participating grocery store, but the contents of an America’s Harvest Box would be limited to foods like peanut butter, cereal, canned goods, or dried beans.
The food delivery box wouldn’t entirely replace SNAP benefits, though. Instead, the America’s Harvest Box would only be worth about half of a family’s total benefits for the month, and they would receive the rest on a debit card, like before.
The United Stated Department of Agriculture said in a statement that the proposal would save the government $130 billion over the course of 10 years. But the USDA did not specify how exactly the program would work, only that states would be largely responsible for funding and that “existing infrastructure” would be used to supply the boxes.
Grocery stores and anti-hunger advocacy groups were unenthusiastic about the proposal. Currently, consumers spend billions of dollars in SNAP benefits at stores like Walmart, Kroger, and Albertson’s, so these chains would lose money if Trump’s plan is implemented. And the nonprofit Food Research and Advocacy Center said the proposal would be “costly, inefficient, stigmatizing and prone to failure.”
Twitter users were also wary of the newly proposed replacement for food stamps.
Some worried that the USDA America’s Harvest Boxes wouldn’t account for allergies or dietary restrictions.
And users also pointed out how expensive the system would be.
The Trump administration’s “Blue Apron-type” proposal prevents the poor from having full control over their diets. The program also denies beneficiaries access to fresh, healthy foods, so it’s inaccurate to compare it to Blue Apron. We hope that the government will reconsider trying to pack nutritional assistance into boxes.