The Trump administration recently proposed to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (aka food stamps) program benefits in half. Not only will they slash benefits, but they propose to supplement households that receive over $90 in monthly benefits with a with a so called “harvest food box.” Regardless of the amount, recipients currently receive monthly benefits deposited onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.
Much like a bank card, it provides users with the freedom to purchase food with a few minimal restrictions. All food must be uncooked – for instance, you cannot purchase prepared food like steamed shrimp or any non-food items like vitamin supplements. Aside from these few restrictions, users pretty much have freedom of choice. Limiting the purchasing power of the poor, is wrong on so many levels. More importantly this would further disenfranchise the poor, by removing their right to choose the food they eat. This post will explore the “5 Reasons Why Trumps Harvest Box is a Bad idea”
1). Freedom of Choice
How would you like if someone took away your right to choose? I liken this to being in prison. The establishment aka, the prison administration determines the foods you eat. In a sense, this is a consequence of being incarcerated. So in essence, receiving a harvest box is the punishment for being poor. In life, the one main thing we have control over is the foods we eat and products we apply to our bodies. If this proposal comes to fruition it will likely cause significant chronic health issues.
2. Trump’s Harvest Box is Nothing Like Blue Apron
A name in of itself has meaning. By definition, a harvest is the gathering of fresh crops. The proposed harvest box has everything but fresh harvested crops. Marketing is a powerful tool. It has the power to imply meaning with simply one description “harvest”. At first glance a pseudo-subscription box modeled after Blue Apron, which has freshly harvested foods sounds amazing.
If you’re comparing it to a thriving fresh high-end organic monthly food service box it’s got to be healthy. After all, Blue Apron includes farm-fresh, seasonal produce, hormone free meat, sustainably sourced seafood, and a freshness guarantee. Well, think again. Unlike Blue Apron, the so-called “harvest box,”includes a delectable mix of highly processed foods, including “shelf-stable” milk, peanut butter, canned meat, cereal, and other unhealthy items that the USDA has “deemed nutritious”. Don’t fall prey to manipulative marketing tactics that promote a false narrative. Check out the USDA’s “harvest box” description.
“USDA America’s Harvest Box is a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families – and all of it is home grown by American farmers and producers. It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers.”
– Secretary Sonny Perdue
3. Creative Marketing
One would think that the government would exercise truth in marketing. But upholding the truth has not been this administrations strong point. There is so much wrong with this statement. First off, eliminating freedom of choice is anything but bold and innovative. Since when has canned vegetables, processed canned meat, and shelf stable milk been considered nutritious. In fact, canned food is some of the worst food you can eat. It is considered poor quality as it saturated with high levels of sodium.
4). Trump’s Food Box Plan Affects Health
This so called harvested food starts off as semi-“healthy” when it is picked from the farm. But it’s journey from the field to harvest box is paved with toxic additives. Crops are often sprayed with toxic pesticides to repel pestering insects and rodents. After which it is harvested and bathed is sodium and other toxic cocktails to extend it’s shelf-life. It is then vacuum sealed into even more toxic BPA infested cans.
Meat goes through a similar process. animals are typically raised in tight, over-crowed, unsanitary facilities, where they never see the light of day. Unlike free range animals, they are not permitted to graze and function as they would in their natural habitat. Tight overpopulated quarters restrict growth and promote disease. The animals are then injected with large volumes of antibiotics to prevent disease, and hormones are administered for rapid growth. Once harvested the meat remains infested with toxins. Processing, and bathing it in sodium and other chemical based additives further renders it more of a science experiment than a nutritious food option.
5) Trump wants Big Government to Pick What the Poor Gets To Eat
Just because you have financial constraints doesn’t mean that you need the government to dictate how, when, and what you eat. A delivery based food service should not be based on a universal menu. Everyone has food preferences. More importantly, over 15 million American’s have food allergies. This proposed program, doesn’t allow for foods to be swapped out. It’s literally a take it or leave it deal. Aside from allergies, families can have food intolerances and be restricted to very specific diets for medical reasons. This can literally be a big waist of both “food’ and benefits.
Why should a families benefits be based on food that they may or may not be able to eat. Since when is it a crime to have control over the food you eat. Theoretically, the food is delivered on a monthly basis. So basically you have to rely on the postal service for delivery. But that raises several potential problems. What if the food is lost in the mail? Better yet, what if the package is stolen.
If you can’t choose the food you eat, you most likely cannot request a replacement box because the assumption would be that you are conspiring to commit fraud. Unfortunately, the harvest box is based on the misconception that the fraud rate is through the roof. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With the advent of the EBT card, users must enter a pin to access and release benefits. This has resulted in a sharp decline of fraud from 3.5% in 2012 to 1.5% today.
Food as with most other things is expensive. People do not choose to rely on the government for food, and statistics support that benefits are used as intended to feed families. One would think that the administration would be in favor of providing families with support without proposing measures that would remove participants right to choose. Just because you are poor does not mean that you can’t be trusted to eat healthy. So much of what we consume can be either beneficial or determential to your health. As humans we have a right to be in control of what we eat. Poor socioeconomic status should not take away that inalienable right. Luckily the harvest box is only a proposal. Hopefully the House and the Senate will not let this proposal see the light of day.