President Trump’s administration released their proposed budget for FY 2018/19 earlier this week and it was met with much concern and disappointment from hunger advocates. The budget contains deep cuts to federal nutrition programs. Nationwide, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would see a decrease in funding by $213 billion over 10 years (approximately a 30% cut). This is on top of eliminating funding for two crucial programs: SNAP nutrition education and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CFSP) citing low participation. This a formula to increase hunger in every city in America.
What does this mean?
SNAP recipients would see a sharp contrast between the current system in place done through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card and the proposed “America’s Harvest box”.
If a SNAP family receives over $90 in benefits a month, they will have 40% of their funds replaced by a box delivered to them via mail with staple foods. These items are “100 percent U.S. grown and produced food and would include items like shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, canned fruits, and meats and cereal” (Politico). Washington has dubbed this a “Blue Apron-type program”, but the comparison is fundamentally wrong.
Fresh produce and meats are at the core of programs like Blue Apron, but the harvest boxes would not include anything fresh or nutritious.
The proposal is vague and gives more questions than answers about how the box program would be implemented. Here’s a few:
- How expensive would it be to ship a box full of canned goods and where would this funding come from?
- What about SNAP recipients that have food allergies or dietary restrictions? Would they be able to substitute these staple items in boxes?
- If these boxes do not provide fresh produce or meats, will families need to use the remainder of their SNAP dollars to make up for the loss?
Will this pass?
The short answer – no. But that does not mean we can turn a blind eye to the attempts to cut funding for the most vulnerable in our community – children, seniors and those with disabilities. We do anticipate additional reforms to SNAP in the upcoming Farm Bill, which provides 80% of funding for nutrition programs. We’ll need your help to ensure Congress provides adequate funding for SNAP in the coming months.
What can you do?
Continue to contact your Representative and Senators and tell them to reject any attempts to defund federal nutrition programs like SNAP. Two out of three SNAP recipients are children, seniors and individuals with disabilities and they depend on SNAP to put back on their tables. It is the most efficient way to combat hunger in the US. Sign up for our advocacy emails at www.feedhopenow.org/advocacy to stay up to date about how you can be an advocate to end hunger in Central Florida.
Sources: Evich, Helena Bottemiller, et al. “Trump pitches plan to replace food stamps with food boxes.” POLITICO, 12 Feb. 2018, www.politico.com/story/2018/02/12/food-stamps-trump-administration-343245.