Trump Overturns SNAP Program with Blue Apron Style Food Delivery Proposal
Have you ever wanted to try one of those home delivery meal plans like Blue Apron? Soon, SNAP recipients may receive a box of goods serving as half of their monthly food benefits from the federal government. Of course, it won’t be “gourmet” like Blue Apron advertises and it has nothing to do with those companies. The U.S. government would be directly in charge of what goes on the dinner plates of more than 16 million low-income households.
So far the proposal is receiving audible jeers from the mainstream media and from grocery retailers who stand to lose over 7% of their sales that come from SNAP cards. Walmart alone reaps an estimated more than one-fifth of all food stamp sales. No doubt, SNAP recipients will not appreciate having their choice of food removed.
President Donald Trump wants to drastically scale back food stamps and replace them with a “food box” delivery program — like Blue Apron.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters on Monday about the plan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to redesign the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) as “America’s Harvest Box.” Under the plan, more than 16 million households would have half of their benefits go toward the food box delivery program.
“What we do is propose that, for folks who are on food stamps — part, not all — part of their benefits come in the actual sort of — and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright — but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” Mulvaney said.
So far, the reasoning for this move is fiscally motivated, but also claims to provide food grown from domestic farmers. The government reasons that they can obtain wholesale prices that benefit over consumers paying retail.
Here is a summary of the USDA’s proposal of the America’s Harvest Box program and how it would work:
“USDA 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. It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers.” – Secretary Sonny Perdue
USDA America’s Harvest Box
- Under the USDA America’s Harvest Box proposal, all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participating households receiving $90 per month or more in benefits will receive a package of nutritious, 100-percent U.S. grown and produced food. Approximately 16.4 million households, or about 81 percent of SNAP households would be impacted by this proposal.
- The amount of food received per household would be scaled to the overall size of the household’s SNAP allotment, ultimately representing about half of their benefits. SNAP participants would receive domestically-sourced and produced food in lieu of a portion of their SNAP benefits.
- USDA would utilize a model similar to that currently used to distribute USDA Foods to other nutrition assistance programs to provide staple, shelf-stable foods (such as shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, ready-eat-cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables) to SNAP households at approximately half the retail cost.
- This proposal creates a new approach to nutrition assistance that combines retail-based SNAP benefits with delivery of USDA America’s Harvest Boxes supporting the President’s leadership on Buy American. This proposal is cost-effective, enhances the integrity of SNAP, and provides for states’ flexibility in administration of the program.
- The remainder of the household’s benefits will still be provided via the current Electronic Benefit Transfer card.
- This proposal would save $129.2 billion over the ten-year period between Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 and FY 2028. This estimate accounts for about $2.5 billion annually in additional administrative funds for states.
- USDA currently purchases a wide variety of food for several nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
- States will be given substantial flexibility to distribute these food benefits to participants. States can distribute these boxes through existing infrastructure, partnerships, and/or directly to residences through commercial and/or retail delivery services.
FMI chief public policy officer Jennifer Hatcher said:
Perhaps this proposal would save money in one account, but based on our decades of experience in the program, it would increase costs in other areas that would negate any savings.
Retailers are looking to the administration to reduce red tape and regulations, not increase them with proposals such as this one.
This is certainly an upheaval to the SNAP program and to grocers’ profits. Dear readers – did you know that it’s common practice for predatory grocery stores to jack up the prices of store goods toward the first of the month in order to soak up SNAP money? We’d never say something like that if we hadn’t witnessed it ourselves each month in the food deserts of the Deep South.
On the other hand, this program will arguably remove freedom to choose what individuals have deemed healthy for themselves and instead will defer to the government’s idea of proper nutrition which will likely include GMOs.
Readers! Please let us know what you think of this proposal!
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