The Trump administration wants to replace food stamps with a “Blue Apron-type” program that sends low-income families a box of preselected foods.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, spoke about the program in a statement.
“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,” said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget. “It lowers the cost to us because we can buy [at wholesale prices] whereas they have to buy it at retail. It also makes sure they’re getting nutritious food. So we’re pretty excited about that.”
As The Washington Post reports, while it takes $1.37 to feed the poorest households in America, Blue Apron services run around $10 per box.
It’s a completely false and dishonest correlation, to compare a box of what would consist of “shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned meat, fruits and vegetables,” according to the USDA, to the fresh, organic ingredients offered by Blue Apron.
This comes as part of a new budget plan, which slashes “safety net” programs designed to help the most underserved and impoverished people in America. The Post explained the Trump cuts:
“On Monday, the Trump administration proposed cutting food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by $17 billion in 2019 and more than $213 billion over the next decade. The dramatic reductions came as part of a budget proposal that made sweeping, across-the-board cuts to popular safety net programs, including federal housing subsidies and Medicaid.”
Critics of the policy point out the logistical headache this could provide. The New Republic questioned how people with certain dietary restrictions would be accounted for under the new policy, as well as the idea of the government choosing what its poorest citizens eat.
“Though there are already restrictions on how food stamps may be used, the so-called America’s Harvest Box represents a significantly more restrictive approach to food aid. The SNAP boxes would contain peanut butter, shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, and canned beans and meat. No word on what SNAP recipients should do if they have dietary restrictions for medical reasons, or if they keep a religious diet. The boxes also will not contain any fresh fruit or vegetables.”
Sarah Jones of The New Republic went further, saying that the new policy is actively authoritarian and discriminatory, “The America’s Harvest Box proposal implies that SNAP recipients haven’t earned the right to choose their own meals.”
Kathy Fisher, policy director at Philadelphia’s Coalition Against Hunger, wondered how the hell it would even work:
“It boggles the mind how that would play out. We know SNAP works now, when people can choose what they need. How they would distribute foods to people with specialized diets, or [to people in] rural areas … It’s very expensive and very complicated.”
Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, addressed the plan in a statement:
“[The new policy is a] Rube-Goldberg designed system of commodity distribution via food boxes… [It] will be administratively costly, inefficient, stigmatizing, and prone to failure… [And it] will return the country to Depression-era anti-hunger approaches.”
I don’t know about you guys, but when an expert in any given field describes the effects of a program in that field as “Depression-era,” I then give that policy a quick “nah.” The government should never choose what its citizens eat, regardless of their financial standing. That is some truly Orwellian shit.
Those on the right side of the political spectrum love to talk about keeping the government away from their stuff, their guns, their healthcare, taxes, the list goes on. But suddenly, when it comes to poor people, they want to personally curate boxes of food to send out to people on food stamps.
Plus, with Trump’s diet, I wouldn’t trust a single person in this White House to put together a solid dish.