The Trump Administration announced their desire to reform the perennial food assistance program, suggesting a different approach to delivering much-needed aid to low-income Americans. The proposal is dubbed “America’s Harvest Box” and represents the administration’s first attempt to reform, or at least curtail, the costly food stamp program that is currently in operation.
Under the outline proposed by the administration, those whom receive $90 or more in SNAP benefits per month would be impacted. That’s roughly 90% of those whom are currently enrolled in the SNAP program.
Under the suggested reforms, half of a recipient’s benefits would be provided in food goods and the other half would follow the current guidelines SNAP operates in that it would be loaded onto an electronic benefits card.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney suggested the program would be similar to a “Blue Apron type program where you actually receive the food instead of the cash.
The suggested reforms would allow for the government to reduce a recipients benefits by half while the other half would be distributed under the same guidelines the SNAP program currently operates. The reduction in benefits would allow the government to purchase food from local farms at a wholesale rates. The government would then have these products delivered in a “box” to SNAP recipients.
Mulvaney claims that the suggested reforms would ultimately save the government nearly $130 billion over a ten year period.
The Trump Administration’s proposal would also curtail some of the fraud that exists in the SNAP program since food is delivered directly to a recipient’s house rather than funds being loaded onto a card that anyone can use. In Massachusetts for example, many of the heroin dealers being arrested are found to be in possession of numerous SNAP cards that do not belong to them. Police across the country report that many drug dealers will use their customer’s SNAP card as a means of payment.
The proposal does present logistical hurdles that may in fact be insurmountable however, it does initiate a national conversation with regard to much needed welfare reforms. One of the first steps that should be pursued is a limit on the type of food that one can purchase under SNAP. Welfare should cover necessities only. There is no need for a SNAP recipient to purchase lobster tails when some of the very taxpayers who fund SNAP are not able to do the same.
Welfare needs to be much more than giving money to someone who is experiencing hard times. They need to understand that welfare is meant to be transitional assistance and not lifelong. We can do this by teaching welfare recipients to budget in a manner that is accommodating to their lifestyle. Initiating a pilot program aimed at mandating welfare recipients to pass a household budgeting course may also be a viable option to pursue.
Directing resources towards getting people off of welfare would also be beneficial to all parties. The government needs to make strides in getting some of those whom receive welfare, back to work. One way of doing that is to insure that working a legitimate job will generate more income than welfare benefits. There must be an incentive to get off of welfare or people will become complacent in not working. They will choose to survive off of the government benefits rather than to strive on their own God given abilities. Many of these people could very well gain a feeling of empowerment just by getting back to work and appreciating the pride felt after a long, hard day of work. The feeling of accomplishment is worth far more than taxpayer funded benefits and that is what is lacking in the current welfare programs.