Many anti-hunger advocates and analysts are equally skeptical of the proposed “food box,” which – if approved – would impact 16.4 million households. They say it’s unclear how USDA would deliver the boxes and how much that would cost. Equally unclear is whether USDA would allot the same foods to, say, an elderly diabetic and a family with young children.
“It boggles the mind how that would play out,” said Kathy Fisher, policy director at Philadelphia’s Coalition Against Hunger. “We know SNAP works now, when people can choose what they need. How they would distribute foods to people with specialized diets, or [to people in] rural areas. . . . It’s very expensive and very complicated.”
The proposal is also likely to enrage food retailers – particularly Walmart, Target and Aldi – who stand to lose billions if food stamp benefits are cut, analysts say. On Monday, the Food Marketing Institute, a trade association for grocery stores, condemned the Harvest Box proposal as expensive, inefficient and unlikely to generate any long-term government savings.
Ironically, that sort of criticism has also dogged Blue Apron, which saw its customer base contract in 2017. A recent report by the market research firm Datassential found that four in 10 lapsed meal-kit subscribers dropped their service because it was too costly.
As much as a third of the price per box goes toward shipping and logistics, which remain daunting, industry analysts told The Post last June. Food policy experts expressed skepticism that the government could do better.