Trump food box policy is cruel and irresponsible governance
By Rosa DeLauro
One year into the Trump Administration, our president’s priorities are clear: if you’re a millionaire or a billionaire, you just got a massive tax cut. If you’re a family who has fallen on hard times, you get to eat out of a box. That’s President Trump’s grand idea for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or Food Stamps: that the vulnerable in this country deserve to eat out of a box of government-selected, non-perishable foods.
For SNAP users who receive more than $90 per month — more than 81 percent of SNAP recipients — the Trump Administration wants to replace benefits with “Harvest Boxes.” It’s an ironic name, given that it is highly unlikely they would include any fresh fruits, vegetables, or nutritious items.
Imagine the box does not come on the day you expect it to arrive, or that it is full of food you are allergic to. Imagine if you are disabled and have to go to a distribution center to pick up your box. Imagine opening your box to find no fresh fruits and vegetables for your growing children, because the Trump Administration cut corners and stuffed it with cheaply acquired food.
The president’s 2019 budget cuts SNAP funding by $213.5 billion over the next decade. This attack on SNAP is an attack on dignity. It is the heart of Paul Ryan and President Trump’s thinking about poverty: if you can only make receiving government aid onerous enough, and humiliating enough, then people will opt out voluntarily and redouble their efforts to avoid hunger, illness, or being laid off. That idea is a slap in the face to the millions who do everything right and still cannot get by.
Food insecurity does not just affect the poorest in our community — it affects the lives of working families, children, workers, the unemployed, and seniors. SNAP has been incredibly successful in alleviating hunger, lifting people out of poverty, and supporting our economy. In an average month, food stamps help families with nearly 20 million children afford an adequate diet. In Connecticut, one in eight residents rely on the food stamp program for access to healthy meals — and more than half of Connecticut SNAP recipients are families with children.
SNAP is also an extremely efficient program. For every dollar of SNAP benefits, over 91 cents goes directly to households with incomes at or below the poverty line. And over 70percent of all benefits go to households with children. For local businesses who get revenue from people using their SNAP benefits at their stores, these boxes would cost them $25 billion in lost food revenue according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
In the richest nation on earth, all people should be fed. Programs like SNAP have enjoyed bipartisan support for decades—because leaders recognized our moral obligation to combat hunger in the United States. We need to strengthen SNAP, not sabotage it—and throw this food box proposal in the garbage, where it belongs.