News Opinion

Trump Stamps Out SNAP Production for Unfinished Proposal

With the newly proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year, President Donald Trump is attempting to steer America’s hungry population down a road with no pavement, speed limit, or direction.

The newly proposed, “America’s Harvest Box” project, aims to deliver all that a family would need, in terms of nutrition, without the hassle of choosing your food for yourself via food stamps. It seems making America great again means controlling even the most basic of human functions — finding your own food.

By taking that one factor of agency away from the people that might need that freedom the most, Trump is effectively force feeding a nation with these “Harvest Boxes.”

Fiscally, it’s fraught with doublespeak and underlying costs.

Reducing the Department of Agriculture’s budget by nearly 30 percent, or over $200 billion, in the next 10 years, with only four pages of text is reckless. Changing the way people eat their food should take a little longer than a college newspaper’s length to be deemed a considerable amount.

The idea alone seems Orwellian; having a pre-packaged box of food delivered to your doorstep instead of being able to choose for yourself makes the recipients seem like inmates.

Recipients of food stamps have long since adjusted to the workings of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), yet the entire system is up for a rehaul with this new proposal.

While SNAP doesn’t live up to its idealistic standards, it got the job done. One of the problems with SNAP was the restrictions on what families can and can’t buy from certain stores. Things like diapers or other hygienic household supplies seem to be missing from the list of available purchases for these families.

However, that one problem doesn’t require a complete overhaul of a system that’s been helping families survive and thrive. Such families were still able to buy what foods they personally needed, accounting for allergies and certain nutritional needs.

But with the Harvest Box, these particulars are dismissed entirely. Each house will be receiving the same box full of, “shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, ready-to-eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables,” according to the USDA.

It seems President Trump’s already assumed detached perception of reality is verified as he sees the over 16 million households to be identical in their diets.

The idea, as quoted by the White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, is akin to that of the Blue Apron program, whose stocks fell lower than Trump’s approval ratings in 2017, and hasn’t been able to keep a customer longer than 2 years.

With more than 41 million people eligible for the box, this plan needs to get some fine tuning and have some questions answered, like whether or not the shipping costs will be covered, or whether or not it can accommodate food allergies or religious specificities.

Though the nutritional and food security these SNAP recipients have been granted thus far hasn’t been stellar, it still has been working for them.

Seeing as the amount of people receiving SNAP benefits has lessened since 2016 shows that despite controversy, the program is helping those in need of it, and that’s something to be optimistic about.

The administration posits that the change is due in part of the rate of fraud going on with the cards that SNAP recipients use. However, the rate of fraud in these cases is less than 2 percent, or less than $3 billion, according to the USDA.

With no consideration to specifics or attention to the public, these changes are nothing more than the transcribed pontifications of an old, delusional and out-of-touch President.

Thankfully, this proposal is just that, a proposal, and any chance of it actually coming to fruition lays in the hands of Congress, which hopefully has enough sense to see through this feckless idea.

Photo: Salvation Army USA West // Flickr



These Are The 5 Most Expensive Regions In The World To Buy Food

From 2005 to 2015, the cost of food in the United States has shot up 31.5%, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). While it’s definitely an alarming increase of price, it’s important to remember that in terms of food costs, the U.S. is very fortunate compared to some other parts of the world. Based on a new report from the United Nations’ World Food Programme and Mastercard, the average meal in the world’s most expensive regions can require a lot more money than the average person makes in a single day.

most expensive regions to buy food

Photo: Infrogmation of New Orleans on Wikimedia Commons 

The new joint study reveals just how expensive food around the world can be. The analysis looks at the relative cost of a serving of beans and rice based on a person’s average daily income in that region. That value is then compared to the price of that same simple meal in New York City, where you can buy beans and rice for about $1.20, or 0.6% of the average daily income. The world’s most costly regions can be seen in the chart below.

Infographic created by Constantine Spyrou/Foodbeast

To buy that meal of beans and rice in South Sudan, the priciest of the surveyed regions, you need to spend an alarmingly high 155% of your average daily income.

World Food Programme executive director David Beasley told CNN that the report is “a stark reminder of how conflict can create cruel inequalities in terms of access to food.”

South Sudan, one of four war-ravaged regions suffering from extreme famine as recognized by the U.N., definitely needs help with food security and food access, as do many other parts of the world. Hopefully, calls to action to help divert unwanted food, like those made in Anthony Bourdain’s new food documentary, Wasted, can help bring relief to these starving areas of the planet. Other potential solutions include innovative food products and technologies that make food more accessible, like aquaponics or golden rice.

The UN’s new report paves the way for a much-needed discussion on the fight against world hunger, one that hopefully will bring relief to these impoverished parts of the planet.