Trump administration proposes alternative to food stamps

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A proposal included in the newly released White House budget that would replace the food stamp program and is estimated to save the country more than $129 billion over a 10-year period isn’t going over so well.

The plan to give low-income families a box of nonperishable food every month instead of food stamps was presented by White House Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney on Monday, according to a report in Politico.

Mulvaney called it a “Blue Apron-type program,” and said it would provide people with more nutritious food than they are currently getting now.

The proposal, buried in the White House’s fiscal 2019 budget, would replace about half of the money most families receive via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, with what the Department of Agriculture is calling “America’s Harvest Box.” That package would be made up of “100 percent U.S. grown and produced food” and would include items like shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, canned fruits and meats, and cereal.

But America’s Harvest Box, which USDA contends would save over $129 billion over 10 years, is not very comparable to startup meal-delivery companies like Blue Apron. For one, the Trump administration’s proposal doesn’t include fresh items, like produce or meat, which are the core of Blue Apron and its competitors. Such products perish quickly and are incredibly expensive to ship.

Politico noted that many people first thought it was a joke, and are not one bit receptive to the idea.

Numerous questions remain, such as how these boxes would be customized for, say, a family that has a child with nut allergies — or for those who don’t eat certain types of meat out of religious or personal reasons. The proposal was so out of left field that some anti-hunger advocates initially thought it was a joke.

Kevin Concannon, who oversaw SNAP during the Obama administration, was aghast when he saw the proposal.

“Holy mackerel,” said Concannon, who said it reminded him of when poor people had to line up and wait for local officials to dole out food and other welfare benefits. “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.”

Grocery stores don’t like it either, Politico noted:

Grocery retailers also balked at the proposal, including the Food Marketing Institute — which represents major retailers like Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons, where tens of billions of dollars in SNAP benefits are spent each year. The industry argues that government-packed food boxes would simply be inefficient.

The idea is being lambasted on Twitter:

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