USDA Would Consider SNAP Recipients’ Religious, Dietary Restrictions for ‘Harvest Box’ Proposal

Canned goods

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed Wednesday that it would consider SNAP recipients’ religious and dietary preferences for the “America’s Harvest Box” proposal.

A spokesperson for the USDA told Breitbart News Wednesday that the agency “will, of course, factor in religious, dietary, and other similar restrictions” but stressed that states administering SNAP would ultimately be the ones to determine what type of food goes into the boxes.

The Trump administration’s Harvest Box proposal, which was announced Tuesday, would enable state agencies to deliver food items to food stamp recipients as part of their benefits package.

The food inside the box would be U.S.-grown “shelf-stable foods, such as milk, juice, grains, ready-to-eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables,” according to the agency.

The spokesperson added that the USDA “would set guidelines on the contents in America’s Harvest Box” that states would follow, but would not elaborate on what specific guidelines the agency would distribute to state agencies handling SNAP.

A spokesperson with Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) confirmed with Breitbart News that the agency “has not received” any specific information about what the USDA guidelines for things like dietary restrictions would be for state agencies dealing with SNAP.

“The department administers the federal SNAP program in Florida based on federal guidelines,” the DCF spokesperson added.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney noted Tuesday that the food would be purchased at wholesale prices that would save the federal government money.

The USDA estimates that the Harvest Box proposal would save $129.2 billion over ten years, would decrease food stamp fraud, and would enhance the nutrition content of the program.

The USDA’s 2019 Budget Summary notes that the majority of the agency’s proposed $140 billion budget for 2019 would go towards nutrition assistance programs, which are required under federal law and not funded through congressional appropriations.

A chart in the budget’s summary shows that 71 percent of the agency’s expenditures would go toward nutrition assistance programs like SNAP.


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