Trump proposes restricting choices for food stamp recipients

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President Trump’s new budget would severely restrict the kinds of foods that food stamp recipients could buy with the government assistance. 

Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP — receive a monthly supplement that offers help purchasing food.

But Trump’s proposal would require people who receive at least $90 a month from the program to get about half of their benefits in the form of a “USDA food package,” rather than by purchasing the food themselves, NPR reported.

The proposed change would affect more than 80 percent of people enrolled in SNAP.

The packages recipients would be given would not include fresh fruits or vegetables. Instead, according to NPR, the packages would consist of “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables.”

The White House’s proposal would reduce government spending on SNAP by $129 billion over the next 10 years. Combined with other proposed changes to the program, the changes would shrink SNAP’s budget by $213 billion over the same amount of time, a 30 percent reduction.

The plan has already been criticized by a number of groups, with critics saying the cuts would reduce help available to the poor. Opponents of the cuts also point out that the physical delivery of the food would pose a challenge for the government.

In a statement provided to The Hill, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defended the “bold, innovative approach” to feeding the nation’s hungry. 

“It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers,” Perdue said.

With an annual cost of $70.9 billion, SNAP makes up about 80 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) budget. About 44 million people get benefits from the program each month. As part of the farm bill — which is being rewritten this year — changes to SNAP need to go through the House and Senate agriculture committees.

Last year, Congress largely ignored the administration’s proposal to cut the program by a quarter. 

—Updated at 10:25 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Sonny Perdue
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