White House proposes food box deliveries instead of food stamps

In this Oct. 6, 2009 photo, people shop at the Costco Wholesale Burbank store in Burbank, Calif. Costco said Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, it will start accepting food stamps at its warehouse clubs nationwide after testing them at stores in New York. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

WASHINGTON (WFLA) — President Donald Trump’s administration is proposing major changes and major cuts to the federal food stamp program.

In his 2019 budget unveiled on Monday, Trump proposed a “bold new approach” to the Supplemental Nutritional Assitance Program (SNAP) that would involve a “food box” delivery program. The administration says it “combines traditional SNAP benefits with nutritious and 100-percent American-grown food provided directly to households.”

“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,” Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said, according to NBC.

Under the new proposal, households getting $90 or more a month in SNAP benefits would receive a portion of their benefits in the form of a USDA Foods package. That package would include items like “shelf-stable milk, ready-to-eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit, vegetables and meat, poultry or fish.”

The plan means more than 16 million households would have half of their benefits go toward the food box delivery program, according to NBC. The rest of the benefits would go on the SNAP EBT card for families to use at approved grocery stores.

Families who currently use the EBT card have restrictions on what they can purchase using their benefits. Alcohol, pet food, household supplies and medicine are among the items that cannot be purchased using SNAP benefits.

The budget describes the program as a “cost-effective approach” that will “generate significant savings to taxpayers with no loss in food benefits to participants.” It also says the program will support American agriculture and prevent certain types of program abuse.

The budget states that SNAP has grown significantly in the past decade and says enrollment remains “stubbornly high” despite economic improvement and job market recovery following the recession.

In addition to the “food box” delivery program, the budget also wants to expand on previous reforms that would strengthen the expectation for work among “able-bodied adults” so the benefits can be preserved for those who are most in need of them.

The proposals include closing eligibility loopholes and modifying income and benefit calculations, as well as eliminating exemptions and limiting waivers that “rob too many able-bodied adults from the dignity of work.”

The proposed budget would cut the program by $17 billion in 2019. By 2028, SNAP would be reduced by an estimated $213 billion.

Democratic lawmakers quickly took aim at the budget’s SNAP proposal on Tuesday and voiced their concerns.

Rep. Jim McGovern from Massachusetts tweeted that the proposal “sounds likes something from the Great Depression.”

North Carolina Rep. Alma Adams called it “expensive and unrealistic.”

On Twitter, Rep. Barbara Lee of California said she relied on food stamps to help feed her sons, and called the proposal “offensive.”

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