Published: Wed, February 14, 2018

Food bank says proposed SNAP changes would make program more expensive

Food bank says proposed SNAP changes would make program more expensive

Called "America's Harvest Box", the program would transform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (sometimes called SNAP, or "food stamps") into a "Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash", White House budget director Mick Mulvaney explained. It says: "States will be given substantial flexibility to distribute these food benefits to participants".

"The section in the president's 2019 budget entitled 'Reforming the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)' certainly makes major changes, but not changes that SNAP-authorized food retailers see as positive or even efficient", said Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer at Arlington, Va. -based Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

For households receiving more than $90 per month in benefits (that's 81% of SNAP households overall), half of those benefits would come in the form of these government-provided boxes.

In Montana, the benefits are distributed through the electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, system. The food-stamp program served 42.2 million people during the 2017 fiscal year, with many spending the benefits at supermarkets. The change would affect approximately 38 million people, according to CNN.

"This proposal focuses on ensuring that all SNAP recipients receive the nutritious food they need at substantial savings by harnessing USDA's purchasing power and America's agricultural abundance", Department of Agriculture spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

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. "So we're pretty excited about that".

President Trump is looking to cut as much as $17.2 billion dollars from the Federal SNAP Program and replace its funding with a boxed food delivery program.

But Blue Apron delivers ingredients for gourmet meals, not boxes of canned goods and shelf-stable milk.

The packages recipients would be given would not include fresh fruits or vegetables.

He was surprised to learn about the food box proposal.

Nevertheless, Akright said he worries that cuts to food stamps will negate the food bank's expansion. Critics also warn that the one-size fits-all government food box won't be able to accommodate those with special dietary needs.

Workers at the Weinberg food bank find the proposal impractical.

For instance, this could end up costing stores like Walmart, which apparently gets 20% of food stamp sales now, billions in revenue. Combined with other proposed changes to the program, the changes would shrink SNAP's budget by $213 billion over the same amount of time, a 30 percent reduction.

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