Approximately 40 million people currently participate in the food stamp program. The cost to taxpayers rose to just over $5 billion at the end of 2017. Tuesday, the Trump administration revealed a plan to revamp the distribution of those benefits.
The proposal, dubbed “America’s Harvest Box,” would replace elements of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Included in the fiscal year budget plan, a portion of a recipient’s monthly food stamp allotment would not come on the EBT card.
Instead, individuals or families receiving more than $90 a month would get a box of non-perishable food items. Items could include staples like peanut butter, canned fruits, and veggies, grains, and canned meat.
The remaining benefits, approximately 50% of the total, would be loaded onto the card as usual. Speaking about the proposal, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney likened it to a “Blue Apron-type program.”
Reactions to the Trump administration’s plan are mixed. While most people agree that changes to the food stamp program are needed, they are divided on the best way to accomplish it. And this plan is certainly not without its problems.
One issue is people with food allergies and special diet needs. Not everyone is able to eat nuts and grains or have dairy products for instance. A solution for that might be to have a selection of food items that individuals can pick from to customize their box.
However, is that cost-effective? Better still, is it even possible? A lot of low-income families and seniors that receive food stamps, don’t have cars or internet. How would they order or pick-up the box? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered.
Yet, there is one upside to the plan.
According to the budget blueprint, the changes slash SNAP program costs by 25%. That amounts to a $193 billion reduction over the next decade. In addition, it also shifts portions of the cost back to individual states.
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