[13 February/Food Dive]

President Trump’s 2019 Budget proposals would result in fundamental changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP) if enacted.  The proposals see those that currently receive more than USD90 a month in SNAP benefits having some of their current cash benefits being swapped for a USDA food package, including shelf stable milk, pasta, canned fruit and meat, that would be 100% American grown.  The box, being referred to as “America’s Harvest Box” represents the most fundamental overhaul to the SNAP programme in 50 years and is expected to result in large savings over a 10 year period.  Congress will have the final say on these changes and history suggests that changing the SNAP programme which has strong support from grocers is hard to achieve, particularly when the large retailers stand to lose billions in sales from food stamps (which amount for around 7.5% of all US food spending).  It has also been suggested that the harvest box would result in significantly increased distribution costs for food compared to SNAP funds meaning any savings would be negated.  Research has shown that SNAP recipients spent more money on soft drinks than any other category, thus the harvest box would have significant impact on particular food categories.