If you currently get SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps, you may get a box of food and a reduced amount of money to spend on groceries if President Trump’s proposal is approved.
According to Snap To Health, 45.4 million people were participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as of January 2016. In 2004, paper food stamps were permanently phased out and replaced by EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) debit card. Recipients get their monthly SNAP benefits on the EBT card and can use them at grocery stores and other government-approved retailers to buy food.
If the Trump administration gets their way, the amount of money that is deposited every month on the EBT card would be reduced. As much as 50 percent of the benefits they currently received on their card would be replaced by a monthly box of food, tentatively known as America’s Harvest Box.
What’s in the box?
CNBC reports that “about half” of the SNAP benefits would be replaced by pre-packaged food that would be delivered to recipients homes.
According to NBC News, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, told reporters that the America’s Harvest Box is similar to Blue Apron, a meal kit delivery service, but that statement is not completely accurate.
The box that is being proposed for SNAP benefits recipients includes non-perishable foods including juice, pasta, peanut butter, canned meat, and beans. Meal-kit delivery services like Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Hello Fresh offer weekly delivery of fresh ingredients. The boxes typically include meats, grains, and vegetables needed to make two or three meals for two, with some companies offering a meal plan for small families.
At this time, the program is in the planning stages. However, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture does revamp the SNAP program to include the America’s Harvest Box, CNBC reports that “16 million households” would have their Food Stamp benefits reduced by 50 percent, with the remainder of their benefits delivered in the form of a food box.
The bottom line for the Trump administration is that the food box would reduce costs, with Mulvaney noting that buying food at “wholesale” for the boxes would save the government money.
“It lowers the cost to us because we can buy prices at wholesale, whereas they have to buy it at retail,” Mulvaney told reporters earlier this week. “So we’re pretty excited about that. That’s a tremendous cost savings.”