Local advocate weighs in on president’s proposal to change SNAP

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The Trump administration is looking to slash the use of food stamps with a proposed food delivery program called “America’s Harvest Box.” The proposal puts the United States government directly in charge of what kind of food ends up on the dinner tables of SNAP recipients, and it’s causing some controversy.

Critics are calling the proposal expensive, ineffective, and unhealthy, but Trump supporters say the idea is genius.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a major program that assists about 42.6 million Americans.  In Nevada, 375,000, roughly one in seven people receive aid from SNAP. 

The Trump administration sees it as a way to cut down on overhead and fraud, while others think it will make food insecurity worse.  Hundreds of thousands of Nevadans get help putting food on their tables through SNAP.

“It actually does what it says it’s going to do, said Jodi Tyson, Government Affairs Director, Three Square.  “It helps to alleviate food insecurity for millions of people who are living in the United States.”

But PresidentTtrump’s proposed 2019 budget would substitute some of the debit cards, like the EBT system, for government-provided food boxes.

“Part of their benefits come in the actual, sort of, and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright, but in a ‘Blue Apron’-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receiving cash,” said Mick Mulvaney, White House Budget Director.

“First of all, ‘Blue Apron’ comes with fresh produce; I believe,” Tyson said.

According to Tyson, the White House comparison is a stretch.

“If we’re talking about canned fruits and vegetables and shelf-stable milk, and things like that, that’s not exactly a good comparison to a program like Blue Apron,” Tyson said.

Three Square packs food boxes every day; it’s part of the 36 million meals the organization provides to the community over the course of a year.
    
Tyson says the boxes can be tailored to an individual’s nutritional needs, unlike the proposed “America’s Harvest Boxes.”

“Thinking of a one-box-kind-of-fits-all program, when we are talking about children all the way to seniors who benefit from the SNAP program,  you can’t anticipate all of the different types of nutrition requirements that are out there,” Tyson said.

Proponents of the budget say it will cut down on fraud and save the federal government money over the current SNAP program.

The projected savings, according to the White House, will be $130 billion over a decade.  It’s been nearly a decade since the federal government operated on a full year’s budget.
    
As negotiations continue over this version of the Trump administration’s budget, it’s possible the changes to SNAP won’t make the final budget bill.

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