Trump administration proposes Blue Apron-style overhaul for food stamps

USDA Eyeing Changes To Federal Food Benefit Program That Would Give States More Control | Harvest Public Media

The Trump administration is proposing a plan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to remodel the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) as "America's Harvest Box", a food box delivery program that would be similar to services like Blue Apron, which sells weekly ingredient-and-recipe meal kits.

A proposal made in President Donald Trump's budget would eliminate half the benefits that food stamp recipients receive, implementing in place of those funds a program that would instead deliver food in pre-packaged boxes to the nation's poor.

Current USDA requirements say that able-bodied adults without children can only get three months of food stamps in three years unless they work or participate in a job training program at least 20 hours a week. The items would include shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned meat, fruits and vegetables.

Food stamp recipients now use a payment card to buy food under SNAP, with strict rules in place by the USDA in terms of what can be bought with the benefits.

The other half of the SNAP benefits would still be provided via the EBT card.

According to the USDA the proposal would save nearly $130 billion over the next ten years but it could become a costly move for the food bank.

#TrumpBudget cuts for hungry families on #SNAP includes NO PLAN for delivering these so-called Harvest Boxes. "These budget proposals for SNAP are the wrong way to go to provide healthy, safe, affordable food for all". "You actually receive the food instead of receive the cash".

"America's Harvest Box is a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families - and all of it is home grown by American farmers and producers".

"What they're trying to do is demean these people", said U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee who served with Perdue in the Georgia Senate in the 1990s.

Gruber says the idea of this box of food is wrong even beyond just having the right to choose what you eat.

Changes proposed by the Trump administration would reduce the amount of choice those who use SNAP benefits to buy food would have.

The plan isn't sitting well with local food bank officials.

Except SNAP is one of the most efficient government programs, with some of the lowest numbers for misuse. They feared it would upend a much-needed benefit for more than 80% of those in the program.

"So if this starts to be phased out that's going to put a greater strain on our resources, because when people can't get those benefits, they are going to come to our partner agencies because people still have to get their nutrition", Wells said.

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