Local residents, organizations respond to "food box" proposal

17 February, 2018, 01:20 | Author: Angelina Schmidt
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Randy Lockwood, owner of the Great American Food Stores locations in Watertown, Star Lake and Boonville, estimated a fifth of his business comes from people using SNAP benefits. The program calls for delivering boxes of shelf-stable food like cereal, peanut butter, beans and canned vegetables in lieu of half the electronic benefits for most households that depend on federal assistance. "As the private partners with the government ensuring efficient redemption of SNAP benefits, retailers are looking to the administration to reduce red tape and regulations, not increase them with proposals such as this one".

However, some people like Annette Davis of Warren says it's a step back to the 1940's when food was rationed and the poor received powdered milk and cheese. Plus, it could be hard for families to pick up the box, especially if they don't have a auto.

Three Square packs food boxes every day; it's part of the 36 million meals the organization provides to the community over the course of a year.

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The Trump administration wants a new way to get food to people on public benefits, but if that were to happen the boxes could be filled with items they can't - or shouldn't - eat, an NC State researcher said. The changes could affect 16.4 million households, according to the USDA.

The Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released a joint statement Monday saying that the budget will not prevent them from doing their job of producing a Farm Bill that benefits farmers, consumers, and other stakeholders. Food Bank officials don't think the SNAP Program deserves a dramatic change. In 2016 alone, the Census Bureau's Supplemental Poverty measure credits SNAP with lifting 3.6 million Americans out of poverty.

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Almost half a million families in Kansas and Missouri are in the SNAP program. Those who receive it early in life have improved high school graduation rates and adult earnings and health, and it provides an economic stimulus to the local economy, according to the USDA. It would require approval from Congress.

"Will they all be getting the same basket?", asked Gunderson. "In addition to being a cruel and demeaning and terrible idea, it's just not practical".

But 21 News has learned that many of those who would be impacted are not interested in the proposal, and others are reaching out to the President wanting to know just how the program would work. Transportation logistics will be decided by individual states.

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"What is in the boxes is also left largely up to the states. While USDA would likely issue guidance and requirements, what is abundant and available in Hawaii would be very different than West Virginia", he added.

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