Trump's Plan: Deliver Food Boxes Instead of Food Stamps

But critics say the idea of an 'America's Harvest Box' is 'prone to failure'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2018 6:42 AM CST
This Jan. 22, 2018, file photo shows OMB chief Mick Mulvaney during a television interview outside the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(Newser) – Trump administration members are hailing their newest idea as a "bold" approach that would save the government billions and feed more than 38 million people in low-income households, but critics are calling it an approach that's "prone to failure." President Trump's 2019 budget plan was released Monday, and in it was a reference to "America's Harvest Box," Politico reports, a container of nonperishable food (e.g., canned fruits and meat, peanut butter, cereal) that would replace about half of the money received each month by
"food stamp" recipients via SNAP. The USDA claims the program, which would apply to about 80% of SNAP recipients, would save about $130 billion over 10 years; White House OMB chief Mick Mulvaney raves that it would be similar to high-end meal service Blue Apron. Officials also say it would fight fraud and ensure people ate better, per CNNMoney.

But anti-hunger advocates are pushing back, pointing out logistics issues, the lack of certain foods (there's no fresh produce or meat included), and the stigmatization. "Holy mackerel," Kevin Concannon, who headed SNAP under former President Obama, tells Politico. "I don't know where this came from, but I suspect that the folks when they were drawing it up were also watching silent movies." Other problems critics foresee: mom-and-pop stores losing business, rural families not having access, and people with food allergies having issues. As for the Blue Apron comparison, the Washington Post notes a Blue Apron serving costs about $10 per person (and has fresh meat and produce), while a SNAP meal costs about $1.37. Concannon doesn't think Congress will OK the plan, telling Politico "the chances of this happening is the same chance of me captaining the next spaceship launching from Florida."

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