Recipients would get “Harvest Boxes” that contain no actual harvest
If there’s one thing the Trump administration supports, it’s choice. Well…some kinds of choice. Choices like, “Should I buy two or three more helicopters with my new tax break?” and “Is one room enough for all of my unsecured and loaded firearms?” What they do not support, however, are choices that have anything to do with our bodies. Now, that may extend to the kinds of foods people on government assistance get to eat.
Yesterday, the Trump administration proposed some changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or what used to be known as food stamps: instead of allowing people on this program to decide what they want to eat, the government would give them a box of pre-selected food. They’re calling it an “America’s Harvest Box,” which is perfect if you happen to enjoy ripe produce from can-farms or fresh milk from powdered-milk cows because these “Harvest Boxes” would not include any fresh fruits or vegetables or cold milk.
Up until now, SNAP participants received food money on EBT cards that they could use on eligible items like bread, meat, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products. Now, the administration wants to use half of recipients’ monthly benefits on these “Harvest Boxes,” which would include “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, and canned fruit and vegetables.” The change would affect those who receive at least $90 a month in food assistance, which is about 80% of SNAP participants.
The administration argues that the change would not only save the government money (because why spend money on poor people when you could be spending it on nuclear weapons) but would also provide recipients with more nutritious food and help prevent fraud. As Budget Director and heartless schmuck Mick Mulvaney put it yesterday, “[The change] lowers the cost to us because we can buy [at wholesale prices] whereas they have to buy it at retail. It also makes sure they’re getting nutritious food. So we’re pretty excited about that.”
This, of course, fits right into Trump’s “the poor cannot be trusted and deserve to be punished for their poorness” philosophy. It’s also disgustingly condescending, not to mention, inconvenient and full of pitfalls for those with food allergies, religious beliefs that dictate dietary choices, and a host of other issues.
The point of view underlying many of this administration’s decisions is that the poor are lazy, spoiled, and are always trying to get one over on all the people who worked hard for (or were born into) their financial stability. Giving SNAP recipients a box of powdered milk and canned meat is just another way of saying, “You don’t deserve anything more than the bare minimum.”
Mulvaney also tried to describe this as a “Blue Apron-type program.” The difference, there, however, as The Washington Post points out, is that Blue Apron meals are about $10 per serving, whereas food stamp meals cost an average of $1.37 a meal.
Here’s how Twitter reacted:
Woah! I got my first "America's Harvest" government food box. Thanks Mick Mulvaney! pic.twitter.com/aZfBuw6edI
— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) February 13, 2018
Instead of "Blue apron-style" isn't it more accurate to say this is a "soup kitchen via the mail"?
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) February 13, 2018
ok poor, here's your Blue Apron-style poor food kit, just like the Blue Apron you know and love
let's see what exciting Blue Apron-style food adventures await you
we have… peanut butter
some locally sourced fish powder
more peanut butter
— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) February 13, 2018
Please to enjoy your DELISIOUS Blue Apron-style container of "Food 4 Poors" delivered to you courtesy of GLORIOUS LEADER Donald J. Trump. Celebrate the freshness of your canned meat, best served heated on engine block of car you live in. #MAGA!
– The White House
— Rex Huppke (@RexHuppke) February 13, 2018
We'd like to shrink government by adding a bureaucracy that has to account for food allergies, religious choices, etc. https://t.co/eFxYLyOddU
— Madison Underwood (@MadisonU) February 13, 2018
So, way to go, Trump folks! Your ability to consistently make the worst and cruelest choices imaginable is awe-inspiring.