"Overall I think we need to look at an individuals situation".
The administration is looking to cut aid to the families, called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but will add a box of canned goods to make up the difference. The remainder of their benefits would be given to them on electronic benefit cards, as before. Would this mean the government dictated the foods each family gets - say, Wheaties instead of Corn Pops, chunky peanut butter instead of smooth?
The box, coined as "USDA America's Harvest Box", would include food grown by American farmers including milk, juice, cereals, pasta, canned produce, and more, according to the administration's proposal. Roberts said, "The proposed changes would be absolutely devastating to the approximately 118,000 food insecure people we serve here at Tri-State Food Bank".
Kevin Concannon, who oversaw SNAP during the Obama administration, was aghast when he saw the proposal. Also, they were concerned that families would not know what food they would get in advance nor have any choice regarding what they receive. "So we're pretty excited about that", Mulvaney said during the briefing Monday.
In the 2019 budget and in interviews with reporters, Trump officials say they want to cut those cash benefits in half and replace them with nonperishable food. The food bank says they would feel the immediate domino effect of this cut.
An "anti-hunger" group, the Food Research and Action Center, blasted the harvest box as "a Rube-Goldberg designed system" that would be "costly, inefficient, stigmatizing, and prone to failure".
"We have seen a 12% increase in the number of people who said they eat fresh vegetables, about a 13% increase in the number of people who say they ate fresh fruit at least once per day", said Alison Czapp, Director of Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
"It's taking away client choice and pushing the distribution cost onto state and local governments and the not-for-profit sector when they can not afford it", added Calvert.
"How are those cities going to deliver food to rural America?"
The budget also floats the idea of new legislation that would require able-bodied adults to work or participate in a work program in order to receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Uncle Sam may be radically changing the federal government's SNAP program.