Syracuse Media Group, N.Y
Washington — President Trump’s new budget proposes major changes and cuts to the nation’s food stamp program.
Under the proposal, participants in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, would lose much of their ability to choose the food they buy, according to NPR. People who receive at least $90 a month in benefits would get about half their food in the form of a “USDA Foods package.”
The change would affect over 80 percent of all SNAP recipients, NPR said.
The foods package would include items like “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables.” The packages would not contain fresh fruits or vegetables, NPR said.
SNAP beneficiaries currently get money loaded onto a card they can use to buy what they want, as long as it meets program guidelines.
States would deliver the new boxes, according to NPR. The boxes, along with some other changes, would reduce the SNAP budget by $213 billion over the next 10 years.
That’s a 30 percent reduction.
Advocates were skeptical of the plan, according to The Washington Post. It was unclear how the system would handle specialized diets or whether the government would deliver the same food to people with different needs.
“The president’s budget proposes to replace in significant part the very successful current system of having SNAP recipients use EBT cards to purchase food through grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers markets, and other normal commercial channels with a Rube-Goldberg designed system of commodity distribution via food boxes that will be administratively costly, inefficient, stigmatizing, and prone to failure, and that will return the country to Depression-era anti-hunger approaches,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, according to the Post.
The proposal is also likely to face opposition from retailers, which would lose billions if food stamp benefits are cut, the Post said.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called the changes bold and innovative in a statement to The Hill.
“It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers” Perdue’s statement said.
Trump’s budget is unlikely to become law in anything resembling its current form. Lawmakers just agreed to a two-year plan that raises spending across the government and Trump signed it.
Conservatives have criticized the two-year plan for adding to the already sizeable federal debt.
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