If you are currently on food stamps, you may have heard about President Trump’s Food Stamps Harvest Box – his latest idea that is included in the 2019 budget. The plan will cut the money food stamps beneficiaries get on a monthly basis and instead mail each recipient a government food box called “Harvest Box”. This essentially takes away your ability to buy your own food, and instead the federal government is going to send you a box each month containing food they think is nutritious that you should eat. The box will include, among other things, canned fruits and vegetables, versus the current program that allows you to buy fresh produce at the grocery store or farmers market.
We have so many questions about how this program is going to work. Luckily, people who write about this for a living are also asking questions. Here is a list of over 60 important questions that Atlantic Magazine Economic Policy writer, Annie Lowrey posted on twitter about Trumps Harvest Box idea.
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60 Questions about Trump’s Food Stamps Harvest Box
1. What if you don’t receive your box one month?
2. What if you’re homeless?
3. What if you don’t have a place to receive mail?
4. What if you move frequently?
5. What if you have allergies?
6. What if the box gets wet, or animals get into it?
7. What if your kid is a fussy eater?
8. What if you’re a fussy eater?
9. What about the end of the month?
10. Will the value be the same?
11. What about the stores in your town?
12. What about fresh fruits and veggies?
13. What if you don’t have electricity or gas to cook?
15. No, really, why? What problem does this solve?
16. Is the value of the box the same as the value of the SNAP?
17. Okay, but isn’t the value of the box lower, given fungibility and all that?
18. Did folks on SNAP ask for this?
19. Did anti-hunger advocates?
20. Schools? Parents? Kids themselves? Social workers? Businesses? Grocery stores?
21. Do you have studies showing that such boxes would actually reduce hunger?
22. At what cost?
23. Any studies showing it’s more cost-effective than SNAP?
24. What about the cost of unwinding SNAP, as-is?
25. What about the time-cost of switching over, for low-income families?
26. Who makes the boxes?
27. Who decides what goes in the boxes?
28. What about packaging waste?
29. What’s the overhead cost?
30. What role do states have in SNAP?
31. Should states be able to opt out?
32. Should families be able to opt out?
33. Any pilots of this program? Anywhere?
34. Have you looked at studies of ration systems?
35. What’s more important: cost or calories?
36. Are you going to aim for a calorie count?
37. Any sense of the direct impact on nutrition?
38. Any doctors consulted on the nutrition impact?
39. Anything else in the box other than food?
40. Do poor folks deserve to get to choose their own food?
41. Do folks receiving government assistance deserve to get to choose their own food?
42. Should kids with poor parents be made more aware of their poverty?
43. How about their classmates?
44. Should there be religious exemptions?
45. How about cultural exemptions? Should all people have to eat the same food?
46. Should the boxes be the same regionally? What about location-based cost differentials?
47. Have you tried a box yourself?
48. What if you’re in an abusive relationship? Can you just get SNAP then, so it is easier to leave?
49. What about vegetarians and vegans? What about folks on a diet?
50. What about kids with medically prescribed diets?
51. Do you get a dollar value per kid, or a calorie value?
52. More calories for older kids?
53. Does the box change based on family composition?
54. Won’t this food be similar to what’s offered at food banks? Does that matter?
55. Will companies be able to lobby to change the contents of the boxes?
56. Will the government accept free food from companies?
57. Will the government put food samples in the boxes?
58. How often will the government re-evaluate the food and calorie counts?
59. What happens during hurricanes? Snowstorms?
60. What happens if shipping costs go up?
61. Will you provide more food during school vacations?
62. Should folks in remote areas get more food? Folks in high-cost areas?
If you have other questions about Trump’s Food Stamps Harvest Box, please post them in the comments section below. We want to hear form as many food stamps beneficiaries as possible on this program, which if implemented, will drastically change the SNAP program and the amount of money recipients will get each month.