WASHINGTON – The Trump administration wants to slash food aid to low-income families and make up the difference with a box of canned goods – a change that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney described in a Monday briefing as a “Blue Apron-type program.”
“What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part – not all, part – of their benefits come in the actual sort of, and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright, but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” Mulvaney said. “It 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.”
Mulvaney’s remarks drew raised eyebrows from some critics, who accuse the Trump administration official of drawing an unfair comparison between the food stamp program, which delivers an average of $1.37 per meal to America’s poorest, and a high-end meal kit that runs $10 per serving.
On Monday, the Trump administration proposed cutting food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by $17 billion in 2019 and more than $213 billion over the next decade. The dramatic reductions came as part of a budget proposal that made sweeping, across-the-board cuts to popular safety net programs, including federal housing subsidies and Medicaid.
But the administration’s SNAP proposal was particularly striking, advocates and experts said, because it advocates a fundamental change to the program’s administration. For the past 40 years, the Department of Agriculture has distributed benefits as either paper coupons or virtual disbursements on Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, allowing recipients to use them as cash on foods of their choice, and at their own grocery store.