President Donald Trump released his budget proposal for the 2019 fiscal year last Monday. Conservative proponents of the plan have heralded that it would eliminate “wasteful” programs and regulations that hurt the nation’s economy, primarily by cutting social safety net programs that enable the survival of millions of Americans.
In one of the greatest smites to the poor in recent years, Trump’s proposed budget would strike a blow to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. In its place, families would receive a box of preselected non-perishable food each month.
As if this inadequate replacement idea was not bad enough, the language and scope of Trump’s budget proposal is inaccessible to the very people that it will affect the most, putting SNAP in danger of being cut. As students, it is our job to use our resources to speak out against it.
Trump’s box, or what has come to be referred to as “America’s Harvest Box,” would be sent to people who currently receive more than 90 dollars a month in SNAP benefits, or 81 percent of those who qualify.
The box would not contain any fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, or dairy — which are currently accessible with SNAP benefits. Instead, these essential components of a healthy diet would be replaced with processed, non-perishable items such as peanut butter, cereal and canned meat. This is not sufficient nourishment for the
human body, as non-perishable food is high in sodium and sugar and lacks the essential vitamins and minerals found in fresh food.
Currently, SNAP assists approximately one in eight Americans, or 42 million low-income citizens, by putting food on the table. To qualify for SNAP, a person has to be hovering 130 percent below the poverty line. SNAP operates by providing prepaid cards to those that qualify, which can then be used at grocery stores to buy food items.
Popular myths about SNAP assume that it’s wasted by able-bodied people who misuse their benefits to splurge on steak and lobster in place of working. This is incorrect. To receive SNAP able-bodied people of age are required to work. The majority of households with an able-bodied recipient have a job.
The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients are either children, elderly or disabled. Studies have found more than 90 percent of benefits from SNAP assist the elderly, disabled or those that live in households where at least one member works. The majority of SNAP beneficiaries are those who would not be able to access enough food otherwise, making the elimination of the program in a country where 1 in 3 children are food insecure, abominable. Being old, disabled, or of low-income status should not mean that fresh, substantive, food is inaccessible.
If you find fault with cutting SNAP (and you should) then do something about it. Call your legislators. Large numbers of calls and popular resistance have the potential to spur congresspeople to take a stand on issues. Above all, speak up for the 42 million Americans whose lives will be put at risk under Trump’s new meal kit plan.
It’s not just your right. It’s your responsibility.
Braaten is an international relations and global studies junior from Conroe. She is a senior columnist.