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Replace food stamp vouchers with boxes of food?

Feb 21, 2018

BY: Citizens Count

As part of its federal budget proposal, the Trump administration would cut the federal food stamp program by $17 billion in 2019 and by more than $213 billion over the next 10 years.

Nationally, 41 million Americans receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the form of paper coupons or electronic benefit-transfer cards.

Food assistance in NH

In New Hampshire, 88,840 people receive SNAP benefits in the form of money directly deposited once a month into recipients’ Electronic Benefits Transfer food stamp account. Recipients use an EBT debit card to go shopping at participating grocery stores and farmers markets.

Currently, all manner of food can be purchased with food stamps loaded on an EBT debit card. However, food stamps cannot be used to purchase beer, alcohol or wine; any type of tobacco products; non-food items like cleaning products, soap and paper products; and no "hot" prepared foods that are ready ready-to to-eat. Other welfare programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), may be used to purchase non-food products with EBT.

Potential change in federal food stamp policy

The Trump administration proposal would give the majority of eligible recipients about half of their benefits in what it calls an “America’s Harvest Box” — a container of nonperishable food items such as milk, juice, grains, pasta, and canned meat, fruits and vegetables.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney described the plan as a “Blue Apron-type program,” referring to the company that home delivers fresh ingredients to cook a meal.

Administration officials and other supporters say the Harvest Box would give SNAP participants the same the same level of nutritional value in their food as the current system while saving taxpayers money.

Opponents say recipients would have less of a choice in selecting fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables, which is an undue infringement on their personal freedom. They also point out that the venture could prove complicated for households with specific nutritional needs, such as food allergies.

What do you think? Should the current food stamp system be replaced with boxes of food?

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