This week, the Trump administration has proposed a new plan to reform and cut approximately 30 percent of the budget of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. Their new plan is definitely thinking outside, or rather inside, the box.
The Trump administration calls it “America’s Harvest Box” and the goal of this program is to cut $17.2 billion from SNAP spending and hopes to save $129 billion over the next decade. Mick Mulvaney, one of Trump’s budget directors described this new plan to be similar to the meal delivery service Blue Apron, and SNAP’s users will be delivered food boxes, instead of being given cash.
These harvest boxes will reportedly contain “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables.” So far, there has been no mention of whether these boxes will contain fresh produce.
SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program in the past, is the safety net program in place to help millions of Americans who are food insecure to acquire food to feed themselves and their families. In 2017, the government spent about $70 million on SNAP and other food-based assistance programs.
The current SNAP program allots an average of $120 per person a month. When this money is divided up per day and per meal, assuming that this person eats three meals a day, this leaves about $1.33 give or take per meal. That amount is barely enough for even a bag of chips in the Atrium.
The argument against the current SNAP program is that even with government funding, people on the SNAP program are still able to buy unhealthy foods for them and their families. Unfortunately, junk food is marketed to be enticing to consumers everywhere, no matter how much money a person is bringing home.
The proposal focuses more on what the government can save in spending on people, instead of making fresh and nutritious foods more accessible and affordable to people in need.
In theory, Trump’s new plan for the SNAP program sounds like a good idea. Who wouldn't want to save a trip to the grocery store and have what they need at their doorstep? But it fails to take into account basic nutrition, dietary restrictions and people’s needs in general.
When it comes to feeding the nation, I do not believe the goal is to spend less and restrict more. Although the amount of people on SNAP is going down, there are still more than 41 million people that are food insecure.
Why is the president proposing to increase military and domestic spending by over $300 billion, yet cutting $1.8 trillion from federal programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, the EPA and SNAP? People are not numbers or dots on a graph and the Trump administration needs to stop seeing them as such.