family and money

Trump Plans To Revamp SNAP – To Include No Fresh Foods

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The Trump administration has proposed a drastic change to the SNAP program, which would slash food stamps benefits for millions of people and families, and replace them with “Harvest Boxes”. Recipients would receive a package of shelf stable food that includes shelf-stable milk, cereals, pastas, and canned meat, fruits, and vegetables. No fresh fruit or vegetables are included in the box. The proposed changes would theoretically save about $130 million over 10 years, but details on how it would be implemented are scant.

Currently, food stamps recipients get their benefits on EBT cards. The money can be used for a wide variety of foods at most grocery stores. They aren’t allowed to buy prepared foods, alcohol, cigarettes, or household items. SNAP benefits also can’t be paid out in cash.

There are approximately 42 million Americans who currently get SNAP benefits. This includes about 20 million children. A family of 4 can’t make more than $32,000 a year in order to qualify, and the average benefit is about $250 per household. Under Trump’s proposal, families or individuals who get more than $90 a month would get a food box. They would be required to pay for that box with their benefits. They could use the remaining money how they see fit. There has been no discussion about how the boxes would be delivered, or at what cost.

The idea behind the boxes is that they’ll be a healthier alternative for recipients. There’s an ongoing debate about what SNAP recipients should and should not be allowed to buy. The proposal also claims that it would reduce fraud within the program.

However, opponents say this isn’t necessarily the case. Much has been made of “food stamp fraud”, but in reality, it only occurs at a rate of about 1.5%. There is going to be fraud in any program, it’s virtually unavoidable. And moving from actual food stamps to the EBT card reduced fraud, because it can be tracked electronically. Harvest boxes won’t eliminate fraud. Boxes can be sold for cash, or recipients can claim they never received theirs and get duplicates.

Also, claiming a box full of juice and canned fruit is a healthier alternative is almost laughable. The boxes will have no fresh fruits or vegetables. And without knowing what the cost of each box will be to recipients, there’s no way of knowing how much money they’d have left over to supplement with items from grocery stores.

Not everyone is going to agree on programs like SNAP and benefits that help poor people. There are some people in this country who think “welfare” programs should be eliminated entirely. But this constant push to punish the most vulnerable among us is troubling.

(Image: iStock/DragonImages)