Trump’s SNAP Reform: What This Could Mean for Benton County

Thanks to Donald Trump a new food delivery service could be coming to Corvallis in the form of a “Harvest Box.” This is a USDA regulated food box that will be delivered to low-income Americans receiving help from the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget has since compared this idea to Blue Apron—the high-end meal-delivery service, where you can choose and customize the meals that will be delivered to you.

Trump’s box is quite frankly the opposite.

Under this new proposal instead of EBT cards, those who need financial assistance from the government will receive a box full of pre-chosen “healthy” foods that would consist of shelf-stable milk, cereal, pasta, beans, canned fruits and vegetables and peanut butter. The USDA suggests eating at least 2-4 servings of fruits and vegetables a day for a healthy and well-rounded diet. The “Harvest Box” won’t even deliver a single serving of fresh produce to families.

Officials working on the details of this proposed plan argue that this will ensure families aren’t spending their EBT money frivolously and on highly-processed and unhealthy food items. However backlash is rising, leaving Americans to question how far is too far. This proposed plan means that the Government has a literal say in what impoverished American citizens are eating. It hasn’t been reported as to what nutritional guidelines will be instated if this plan goes into action

According to Donald Trump this SNAP reform will save Americans somewhere around 129 billion dollars over the next decade and will instill healthier eating habits in the homes of families across the US—16.4 million to be exact according to a report done by USA Today. But this comes at the price of $200 billion being cut from the SNAP budget.

This one-size-fits-all approach to feeding America leaves much room for questioning—how exactly will money be saved after factoring in delivery costs, production costs, and labor costs without even adding the costs of the actual food into this equation? What about those with food related allergies or intolerances? How will forcing low-income Americans to eat heavily processed foods lead to healthier diets? Not to mention the financial deficit local grocery stores will face after millions of consumers no longer have the means to shop for themselves.

Along with these questions of ethicality, it’s important to note the caliber of which Oregonians, specifically Benton County citizens, will be affected by these changes if this bill gets passed.

According to 2017 Benton County Community Health Assessment, “as of 2015, an estimated 13 percent of all households (4,476 of 33,840 households) in Benton County received SNAP benefits.” The same report also stated that an additional 25% of the food insecure population was already ineligible for benefits. This just means that the number of Oregonians without access to adequate nutrition will heighten, including children, as “1-4 kids in Benton County live below the poverty line.”

This proposal will go into effect if approved by Congress beginning at the 2019 fiscal year.

By Kirstyn Archer

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