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Why Trump’s Food Stamps Box is Bad Idea


President Trump is pushing a proposal to replace food stamps with what he calls a “Blue Apron” style program where food stamps recipients will receive a portion of their benefits in a box that is delivered to their house each month. We think Trump’s food stamps box is a bad idea and here are three major reasons why:

Trump’s Food Stamps Box is Demeaning

There is a stigma associated with food stamps in the United States that is mainly perpetuated by Republicans.

While the data actually shows that most households getting foods stamps have an adult that is working, there is still this perception that people on food stamps are not trying hard enough in life.

The perception is that people on foods stamps are simply not pulling themselves by the bootstraps and are lazy. They are taking advantage of the American taxpayers.

The thinking is that if only they tried hard enough, they will be able to find work and afford to pay for their own food.

The reality is actually far from that. The truth is that most people on SNAP benefits are actually working. They are not able to afford to purchase all their food because they are not making enough money.

When you hear stories from food stamps recipients who are working, you will find that some are working several jobs to make ends meet. They are just unable to pay for all their nutritional needs from what they are making, especially when they have kids, elderly or a disabled person in the household.

To deny them the ability to go buy their own food with their EBT card and send them generic government food is degrading and place more stigma on people receiving food stamps when most of them are trying really hard and just need a little help to make ends meet.

The average individual recipients get $126 a month, which translates to $4.2 a day, which is about $1.4 per meal. They are not making out like bandits and should not be treated as such.

Quality of Food Will be Worse

"Why Trump's Food Stamps Box is Bad Idea"

Another misconception that has been going around is that people on foods stamps use their money to buy junk, compared to what people who are not on food stamps buy. Again, this is further from the truth.

A study done by the Huffington Post shows that the food purchased by people on foods stamps is not that different from food purchased by those who don’t receive government assistance.

Therefore the idea that people on SNAP are going to make bad choices when it comes to what they buy versus the general population, and therefore the government needs to intervene and send them nutritious food is not supported by the data out there.

In addition, what’s would happen is that the government will purchase food from the lowest cost provider, and as companies bid to the bottom to win the contract, the quality of the food will deteriorate, versus what recipients can purchase at the grocery store on their own.

Furthermore, there is no assurance that the USDA will hold these companies to a higher standard to provide quality food.

Recipients will end up with sub-standard food – including low quality canned food produced with low-quality ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, lots of sodium and preservatives.

The better option is what we have now, which is allowing people on SNAP to purchase their own food at any grocery store or farmers market. This gives them access to quality, nutritious food options if they desire to purchase that. The current food stamps program works. Why change something that is working well?

Delivery Issues

Even if the government is able to deliver quality, nutritious food, this is a massive undertaking. There are about 39 million people on food stamps. Can we trust the US government to deliver a box to 39 million people each month?

We are talking about food here. How can we be sure that the people who the food is meant for actually receive them?

If someone does not receive their package, what is the recourse? Our suspicious is that this will create a side industry of people who steal these packages and sell them.

Those that will suffer are the elderly or disabled or those who live in poor neighborhoods where mail safety is an issue.

To make this work, the government will have to contract out the delivery of the packages to services with tracking, which will be more expensive perhaps negate any savings expected.

Even then, there is no guarantee that the packages will make it to the intended recipient.

For a government that passed a law requiring Social Security checks to be received electronically due to the cost of mailing, theft and delivery issues – it’s hard to imagine that the same government can be trusted to deliver food to 39 million people each month.

People need food. They are on food stamps because they need help meeting their nutrition needs. These are not the people to experiment with.

The current system works. Money is put on EBT cards and can only be used to purchase approved food at approved locations. What’s wrong with that?

We hope this article helps to inform you on why Trump’s food stamps box is a bad idea.

President Trump is planning food stamp cuts for 2018


President Donald Trump has made it clear he thinks there are too many people on food stamps. When he said in 2016 that 43 million people are on food stamps, he was communicating a desire to bring to pass one of the biggest goals of conservatives in Congress – which is to cut entitlements and government assistance programs. The food stamps program, which had a price tag of $68 billion in 2017 is one of the programs that is first to be attacked by those seeking to rein in on what they call excessive government spending. There are three ways by which President Trump has tried to cut the number of food stamps recipients and reduce its budget. In this post, we are going to review the three proposals the President has put forward regarding the SNAP program and talk about the merits of each, including his planned food stamp cuts for 2018, which will have devastating effects.

Food Stamp Cuts for 2018 and Beyond

When the President sent Congress his latest budget proposal, as expected, he targeted a lot of programs for step cuts. Prominent among them was the SNAP program, where the President wants to cut more than $213 billion over the next ten years — nearly a 30 percent cut. This will make at least 4 million people ineligible for the program. The main argument used to justify this draconian cut to this vital program is that with the economy growing and unemployment at a record low, there is no need to have so many people on food stamps, especially since food stamp numbers have not returned to pre-great recession levels – when it jumped from 33 million in 2009 when President Obama took office. And even though the number of people on SNAP has been falling in recent years, conservatives want it to go down even further.

However, the reason the number has not returned to the pre-great recession level is that there are some underlying factors about this economic recovery and growth that hides the reality that people in the lower income bracket are facing. The first of those issues is that although people can now find jobs easily, the jobs are not paying the same wages they used to pay. This is especially real for people who had to change careers because their manufacturing jobs have disappeared or gone overseas. For these people, even though they can find work, they are being paid a fraction of what they used to earn. As a result, they turn to the government for help in feeding themselves and their families, even though they are working full time.

Another reality is that others are finding it hard to get full-time work. Part-time work is abundant as businesses look to cut redundancies and operate more efficiently. As a result, some people have had to piece together a few part-time jobs to make ends meet – and so even though they are employed, they are not able to take advantage of the security and financial benefits that a stable full-time employment brings. For some of these people, getting off food stamps is not yet possible because that money has become a vital part of filling the gap left by their inability to find full-time work.

"food stamp cuts for 2018"

Implement Food Stamps in a Box

Another idea proposed by President Trump to try and rein in on the food stamps program is to turn the SNAP program into a box of food that is delivered to recipients monthly. The president says it will be like a “Blue Apron” style box. However, the reality of what is being proposed is far different from Blue Apron. What Trump seeks to do is deliver sub-standard food to SNAP recipients. Picture a box containing government cheese, high fructose corn syrup loaded processed foods, growth hormone filled meats that are purchased from large, corporate agro-businesses whose sole purpose is to squeeze every ounce of profit from whatever they make, using the cheapest ingredients they can find.

For a GOP that prides itself on individual freedoms, it’s really ironic that they will rather take away people’s right to purchase their own foods and replace it with foods that the government picks for you each month. It’s as if the government is saying they know what’s best for you and that they cannot trust you to make your own decisions regarding what you want to eat or feed your family. However, the same GOP are quick to scream socialized medicine when the government tried to intervene in the healthcare market. There, their argument was that people should be able to make their own healthcare decisions and pick their own doctors. Yet when it comes to food stamps, they are OK with the government deciding what people should eat – just because they are receiving government assistance to buy food.

When you look deep into this idea, the primary motivation is the disdain some in the GOP have towards people who receive government assistance. Since the perception is that people on food stamps are freeloaders, it’s easy for the GOP to propose that it is OK to decide what people on food stamps can eat since they don’t deserve the help in the first place. This is not an attempt to make the program better since experts overwhelmingly agree this is a bad idea. Part of the motivation is ignorance of the statistics surrounding people who are on the program. There is this perception that majority of people on SNAP are idle freeloaders when the reality is that most are families with children and most SNAP households have a working adult. The main issue is that these people are not making enough money to feed themselves and their children.

Drug Testing of Food Stamps Recipients

The most recent idea proposed by President Trump to cut the food stamps program is to Drug Test recipients of the program. This has long been a conservative pet project. Again, this is borne out of ignorance of who is on food stamps. The right-wing websites like Breitbart and The Blaze have been pushing this idea that people on food stamps are just taking the taxpayers for a ride and that they just don’t want to work. They have this picture in their minds of people sitting around doing drugs and using the government as their piggy bank, living off welfare and getting food stamps. They, therefore, think that if you introduce drug testing for food stamps applicants, you will either deter these drug users from taking advantage of the government or you will catch them through drug testing and deny them food stamps. The reality is that states that have actually tried drug testing of welfare and SNAP recipients have actually discovered that it is a complete waste of time, as shown in this article. The government will actually end up wasting a lot of money chasing a goal that will not be achieved. That’s because the caricature painted by conservatives about food stamps recipients simply does not exist.

Are there people who abuse the SNAP program? Of course, there are. Like every government program, there are people who would want to take advantage. However, the facts of the SNAP program points to a program that is actually overwhelmingly helping those who need it most – families with children, the elderly and the disabled. Able-bodied adults without dependents only constitute 5% of the program population. In addition, food stamps have helped lift people out of poverty.

Therefore, even though the program is a target of the President, the good news is that Democrats in the Senate have been ready to block any attempts to gut this vital part of the safety net, including any food stamp cuts for 2018, and that’s good news for all people who depend on SNAP.

Why is SNAP and WIC Recipient Population Growing?


The federal government is spending a lot of money on supplemental nutritional programs. When you combine what is spent on the traditional food stamps program or SNAP, in addition to what is spent on WIC, which is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). SNAP provides food assistance for households that do not have the means to obtain necessary nutritious food, whiles the WIC program provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. The key question is why these programs are seeing increasing number of people. The WIC program for mother and infants alone caters to some 9.1 million women, infants and children through over 10,000 clinics nationwide. In 2013, the Maryland WIC program served over 143,000 women, infants and children each month. If you want to know more about the WIC program, watch the video below.

Since the great recession started in 2008, there has been an increase in the number of people needing food assistance under the Food stamps program,  otherwise known as SNAP benefits program. The SNAP program is run by the United States Department of Agriculture to help eligible needy individual and families by nutritious food.  As a result of the recession, and it’s associated record number of people unemployed, under employed and  long term unemployed, there has been a resultant dramatic increase in the number of food stamps recipients.

The numbers are shocking.  One is  every seven resident of the United States is on food stamps which means that about 15% of the American Society is receiving some form of help from the US government to help buy food for themselves and their families. Specifically, as of April 2013 47,548,694 people are on SNAP benefits,  which is a 2.8% from 2012.  This makes the program one of the federal government’s biggest social welfare program. Among states, Mississippi has the largest share of people relying on food stamps with 22% of the state’s residents getting food assistance while Washington, DC holds the record at 23%. The following states have 20% of their population on food stamps – Oregon, New Mexico, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky,  while Wyoming had the smallest share of its population on food stamps at 7%.

As the economy has started to improve and the unemployment rate goes down, it is easy for our politicians to think it is time to scale some of these program back. However, when you dig deeper into the data, you will find that the recovery is not as broad as it should be. For example, one of the things we know is that more people are finding part time work, versus full time employment. That means that although they have started working and have joined the workforce, they are under-employed. This means that they may have not returned to the income they had before the recession and will still require some government assistance to meet their nutritional needs. As the Politifact link above explains, there is a lot to be learned about this recovery and policy makers need to dig deeper before they start to cut aid to people who may still need them.

Top 3 FAQs about Food Stamps


From our last article, we presented data showing that there are record numbers of people on public food assistance (food stamps or SNAP Benefits) and we explained why we think this number has been fairly high and remains high despite the improvement in the US economy and all the talk about recovery. Today, we want to talk about the top most asked questions on the food stamps program and our answers to them. Here they are:

1. How do I Qualify for Food Stamps

To find out if you qualify for food assistance, you have to contact your state’s agency that is responsible for the program. Even though the SNAP benefits program is a federal program, it is administered at the state level. The qualification criteria is generally uniform and set by the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture. However, states are free to set their own additional requirements beyond the federal guidelines, which some states have attempted to do. For example the state of Georgia wanted to require drug testing for food stamps applicants, which was rejected by the Department of Agriculture.

2. Can you get Food Stamps and be Employed

There is a big misconception that only people who are unemployed or lazy apply for food stamps. There is also the general belief that most people getting food assistance are getting it to help an elderly person or a child in their household. However, there are more people employed that are receiving help with food assistance than there are children or elderly people on the program. That speaks to the magnitude of the problem and why there should be no shame in applying for the program. So, the answer is yes, you can apply for SNAP benefits even if you are employed. As the video above shows, there are growing number of people on food stamps in the middle class now – highlighting the devastating effects of the recession.

3. What Can I Use my EBT Card to Purchase

The EBT Card is the card that people on food assistance get to make their food purchases. It is a prepaid debit card and the money for food aid is deposited on the card so you can use it to buy food like any other debit card you have in your wallet. However, there is one difference. You are only allowed to use this card to purchase a specific list of food items, unlike say the Social Security Benefits Prepaid Debit Card, which can be used to purchase whatever the recipient wants to buy . Since the goal of the program is to help people get food they absolutely need, it is understandable why you cannot use the card to purchase food at restaurants or hot foods. Here are the foods you can buy using your EBT Card:

Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:

  • Foods for the household to eat, such as:
  • breads and cereals;
  • fruits and vegetables;
  • meats, fish and poultry; and
  • dairy products.
  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.

As you can see, this is not a list that allows you to buy “luxury” food items but the basic necessities that you absolutely need.

Filed under EBT Debit Card, SNAP

What is the number of people on Food Stamps?


According to this article published last year by the Washington Post, there are 47 million Americans on Food Stamps. Why are there so many people needing government assistance to buy food? Blame the great recession. That took a huge toll on many households. There are some who saw their wages and hours cut. Others lost their jobs and saw their unemployment benefits run out before they could find another job. There are households where both parents are working but are not making enough to be able to cover all their expenses. That’s why there is a big jump in the number of people on SNAP benefits.

"how many people are on food stamps"


As you can see from the image above, which was taken from the same article, there were about 25 million people on food stamps in 2006 through 2007. The number of people on government benefits regarding food stamps quickly rose as the recession kicked in from 2008 peaking in late 2012 close to 50 million people. That’s almost double what it was before the great recession. Unfortunately, the number has not moved much from the peak because people are still hurting and need the help. Even though the economy is improving, many people are still unemployed or underemployed. There are some who have stopped looking and are in households that are still in need of government assistance.

In addition, record numbers of seniors are now on food stamps, which disturbing because their prospects for getting off public assistance is slim since they are on fixed income. As the video above shows, working people need food assistance the most. That is a change from before when the highest number was children and the elderly. That shows that the perception that slackers are the one on food stamps, and therefore taking advantage of the government is simply not true.

Filed under Food Stamps