SNAP Recipients Need a Raise, Not a Box

The GOP has taken a number of swings at cutting benefits for families who rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, or SNAP, to help meet their food needs. State legislatures have demanded that work requirements be met to continue receiving often scant benefits. Paul Ryan suggested converting the funds to block grants for the states to dole out. And one legislator even demanded that fish not be allowed for purchase.

Now the Republican Party is so enamored with the myth that those who use EBT cards are living large on taxpayer dollars that even President Donald Trump is in on the game. In the most recent budget proposal for 2019, President Trump recommends cutting the SNAP budget by $17.2 billion just for 2019 — over 20 percent of the program’s cost.

But Trump being Trump, he won’t just decimate a program that helps about 42.2 million Americans battle against food insecurity. Instead, he’s going to rewrite exactly what SNAP beneficiaries are allowed to eat — item by item. As NPR reports:

Under the proposal, which was announced Monday, low-income Americans who receive at least $90 a month — just over 80 percent of all SNAP recipients — would get about half of their benefits in the form of a “USDA Foods package.” The package was described in the budget as consisting of “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables.” The boxes would not include fresh fruits or vegetables. Currently, SNAP beneficiaries get money loaded onto an EBT card they can use to buy what they want as long as it falls under the guidelines. The administration says the move is a “cost-effective approach” with “no loss in food benefits to participants.”

Except, there’s an obvious loss in food benefits: the ability and autonomy to make one’s own food choices.

Currently, SNAP recipients average around $125 a month for food purchases, or $254 for a household — by no means a large amount from the start. The new budget proposal would reduce the actual discretionary amount to about $63/$125 dollars for an entire month, or approximately $2/4 a day.

For those already finding it nearly impossible to stretch their monthly limit, this reduction in funds will be even more problematic. Meanwhile, the government plans to provide pre-filled boxes with cheap and far less healthy food. Cereals are high in sugar, canned fruits and vegetables have far less nutrients then fresh or frozen and canned beans and meats are loaded with additional salts to preserve them.

Vox reports:

The closest analogy that the federal government runs now is a program that distributes food boxes instead of SNAP benefits on American Indian reservations. Available foods include canned beans, corn, and spinach; dried eggs; dried and canned fruit; peanut butter; and canned and frozen meat. It’s a far cry from a meal kit box with fresh grass-fed beef, kale, and a tiny container of Sriracha. (And also serves far fewer people — about 90,000.).

“Whether these Harvest boxes are healthy depends on what type of juice and grains make it inside,” said Sara Abiola, an assistant professor of health policy and management at Columbia University. “It matters, for example, whether the fruit is canned in water or syrup.”

Despite claims otherwise, the SNAP program is almost entirely without “fraud” and the options for obtaining “unhealthy” food have already been dramatically limited by restrictions placed on the funds. The Trump administration’s plan wouldn’t ensure that  more healthy food is purchased; it would remove a person’s ability buy fresh foods like dairy, produce and fresh and frozen meat — especially in areas of the country where local farmer’s markets allow EBT cards for purchases of local fresh goods in season and at cheaper costs than in stores.

Those who use SNAP don’t need pre-packaged boxes or reduced benefits. What they need is the autonomy to purchase the food that best fits their family’s needs and tastes — and our trust that they know what is best for their household.

If the government truly wants beneficiaries to eat healthier foods, they need to give people more money for better food.

Photo Credit: USDA/Flickr


Sara S
Sara S3 days ago

The food boxes would undoubtedly contain unhealthy food, most likely things near the expiration date. Trust people to make their own judgments, and by all means, raise the amount of money on the food stamp cards. One thing we can definitely guarantee, is that lawmakers proposing this change don't eat the cheap food they want to give to the poor.

Elizabeth A
Elizabeth A5 days ago

Not everyone that gets nap food stamps uses them to buy drugs and cigarettes Luna. Some people do that not everyone so I do think as a person that I do receive food stamps they should raise the amounts because 194 a month is not enough to feed a familyAnd maybe they should add a little cash to the Foodstamps so they could buy toilet paper and things that Foodstamps can’t buy

luna smith s
Luna S6 days ago


Doranna M.
Doranna M.9 days ago

So lets go to place & get MORE food boxes of food for FREE to help us out. & black women & girls please DON'T & stop having abortions & taking birth control as that IS black genocide & they are making the birth control from the horses urine Exterminating them as well. Please listen to part 13 1st of the film Maafa21 in which Dr Martin Luther King jr niece speaks. & please have 2 babies with a black MAN black women as it takes 2 people to replace another 2 people,& interracial mixing & Marriage is the number ONE thing that IS Exterminating us black people WORLDWIDE even more than Abortion. Jesus was Black & Black IS Beautiful so please CHANGE & LOVE yourselves black people.

Doranna M.
Doranna M.9 days ago

Yeah us people who need & get food stamps should get more food stamps & the minimum wage that I voted on to be increased should be increased MORE as the cost of living is so high.

Joan E
Joan E14 days ago

I despise the way Republicans treat people.

Bill E
Bill Eagle16 days ago

A food box is an insult to the humanity of poor people.

Chad A
Chad A20 days ago

Thank you!

Olivia H
Past Member 20 days ago

Thank you

Janet B
Janet B22 days ago