The Trump administration’s idea of sending pre-packed boxes of food to food stamp recipients in lieu of funds credited to their accounts, is drawing the criticism of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, an organization dedicating to showing how taxes and government spending affect Americans.
Andrew Wilford, as associate policy analyst with the NTUF called the proposed reform a “solution without a problem.” It would create a “bureaucratic nightmare that would increase costs and force-feed Americans in a one-size-fits-all system,” he wrote.
The administration called it a “Blue Apron-type” program, whereby food would be sent “in the form of a USDA foods package, which would include items such as shelf-stable milk, ready-to-eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit, vegetables, and meat, poultry or fish.”
The government would save money the White House says, because it would buy the items wholesale, instead of having food stamp recipients buy the food at retail prices.
The NTUF argues however, that any savings resulting from the program would be unlikely. “The odds that a proposal such as this could actually save money, let alone the kind of money that the USDA suggests, are low…Assuming 16.4 million packages sent out 12 months a year, about 197 million Harvest Boxes would have to be sent out annually. For reference, that’s almost a third of the amount of packages Amazon handles in a given year. It’s difficult to see this as a more efficient system than simply crediting money to an Electronic Benefit Transfer card,” he writes.
Wilford argues instead that the administration should focus on other reforms such as pathway-to-work programs and reducing fraud and abuse. “Neither taxpayers nor benefit recipients,” he wrote, “would benefit from an inefficient and expensive system that tells Americans what to eat.