White House wants to transform food stamp program into Blue Apron-style model

WASHINGTON — The government is taking the idea of food subscriptions like Blue Apron and putting its own twist on it.

When Budget Director Mick Mulvaney described the transformation of the food stamp program,  it appeared to be quite similar to delivery programs like Blue Apron.

“USDA America’s Harvest Box is a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families — and all of it is homegrown by American farmers and producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a statement. “It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers.”

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The new Harvest Box would affect households that receive at least $90 a month in food stamps, reports CNN Money.

Instead of receiving all of the money on their preloaded debit card, households would have a box of food with items like as shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish and canned fruits and vegetables. Families would have to pick it up; the box would be valued at about half of the SNAP recipient’s monthly benefit, said CNN Money. The remainder of their benefits would be available on the debit card.

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The Trump administration says it would save $130 billion over 10 years and reduce the possibility of fraud.

However, critics question the possibility of the proposed savings and are concerned over families not knowing in advance of what they would receive or having difficulty picking it up if they don't have a car.

Read more about the budget proposal and how it adds up here.