Trump administration proposes Blue Apron-style overhaul for food stamps


President Donald Trump's 2019 budget, released Monday, makes reference to legislative reforms to programs like food stamps and public housing that include adding or tightening work requirements.

But a government program delivering non-perishable foods at a discount bears little semblance to Blue Apron, a meal delivery service which says it only delivers farm-fresh, seasonal produce, meat with no hormones, and sustainably-sourced seafood, among other expensive and fresh foods. "It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants now receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers", U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

A proposal to overhaul how food stamps are distributed in America involves packaged food deliveries. "As the private partners with the government ensuring efficient redemption of SNAP benefits, retailers are looking to the administration to reduce red tape and regulations, not increase them with proposals such as this one".

In his 2011 book, "Time to Get Tough", Trump warned of a "food stamp crime wave", claiming half of SNAP recipients have been in the program for almost a decade and attributing this to fraud. The boxes would include shelf-stable items such as juice, pasta, canned meat and beans - similar to items that would be distributed at a food pantry. SNAP is already flexible and provides recipients with healthy food options, he said.

Instead of fresh fruits and vegetables, the program would prioritize canned goods.

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Perdue called the proposal a "bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families".

Trump officials told reporters on Monday that the reforms would affect approximately 16 million Americans who now participate in SNAP, or 81 percent of households in the program. The food bank says they would feel the immediate domino effect of this cut.

According to a summary of the proposal compiled by the Agriculture Department, the objective of the program is to cut costs and would save the federal government $129 billion over a decade. The program slashes were announced after Trump provided corporate tax savings of more than $1.2 trillion annually.

"It's a risky scheme that threatens families' ability to put food on the table", said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Knott also said that the program is created to help vulnerable populations like veterans returning from combat or seasonal workers who would lose benefits if they aren't working for several months.