He compared the proposed delivery service, which the USDA is calling "America's Harvest Box", to "a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of [receiving] the cash". "I think that's important", Brislain said.
Under the proposal, only a fraction of SNAP benefits delivered to households that now receive $90 or more per month would be delivered through the traditional retail-based Electronic Benefit Transfer card that allows recipients to buy approved foods from grocery retailers. Currently, SNAP beneficiaries can buy what they want with all of their monthly benefits as long as it falls under the guidelines. "It would require the government to select and purchase nonperishable food items, pack food boxes for millions of American homes, and then somehow deliver those food boxes across the country", Burhop said. The reality according to the Census Bureau is that 1.5 million low income veterans depend on SNAP for food assistance.
"This proposal focuses on ensuring that all SNAP recipients receive the nutritious food they need at substantial savings by harnessing USDA's purchasing power and America's agricultural abundance", Department of Agriculture spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. "So we're pretty excited about that", Mulvaney said during the briefing Monday. But that math has been called into question, largely because the USDA admits it hasn't estimated the not-inconsiderable shipping costs.
Trump's administration believes states can provide the food packages cheaper than what SNAP clients pay for food at stores, saving more than $120 billion over the next decade. "States will have substantial flexibility in designing the food box delivery system through existing infrastructure, partnerships, or commercial/retail delivery services".
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If Congress agrees with these cuts and program changes, food assistance will arrive with a stigma not witnessed since the depression era, with the ability to devastate local economies.
Uncle Sam may be radically changing the federal government's SNAP program.