Lehigh Valley

Proposal to replace SNAP with food delivery program causes concern

Reaction is pouring in to a proposal in President Trump's budget plan.

The idea is to scale back food stamps and replace them with a food delivery program.

The White House says it will save billions, but here in the Lehigh Valley some social service providers are concerned.

Tuesday was distribution day at the 6th street shelter food bank. The volunteers were busy, but say they're worried about proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

A new proposal by the Trump administration would cut monetary food assistance for 81 percent of recipient households in half and replace that benefit with USDA food.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says: 

"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."

But Second Harvest Food Bank Director Jessica Dokachev says canned meats and vegetables in the USDA basket are contrary to SNAP's mission of providing healthy food to families in need.

"When we start to lean on foods that are high in sugar, high in salt; processed foods like those that are proposed for the Americas Harvest Box, we are moving backward, moving back to a time when it was really not about community health outcomes not when it was about personal nutrition but an any food will do kind of mentality," said Dokachev.

Dokachev says if SNAP is cut, it will also impact local farmers and businesses.

She says the Double SNAP program offers SNAP recipients a two for one incentive when they buy from local farmer's markets.

Organizers say recipients spent $53,000 on local produce last year.

"We have seen a 12% increase in the number of people who said they eat fresh vegetables, about a 13% increase in the number of people who say they ate fresh fruit at least once per day," said Alison Czapp, Director of Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

69 News reached out to our elected officials about the proposal.

A spokesman for Senator Toomey says Toomey is reviewing the budget proposal and sees it as merely a statement of priorities by the administration.

A spokesman for Congressman Dent says major changes to the SNAP program are best made in the context and during deliberation of the Farm Bill.

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