Should boxes of food replace food stamps? - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Should boxes of food replace food stamps?

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WARREN, Ohio -

In an effort to save billions of dollars over the next 10 years, the Trump Administration has proposed replacing a portion of the food stamp program with actual boxes of food delivered to low-income families.

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.

Fifty-eight-year-old Melvin Washington of Warren actually works for his food stamps.  He puts in hours as a parking lot attendant for Trumbull County Job and Family Services.

"I work 24 hours a month. I get $194 in food stamps," Washington said.

Washington says President Donald Trump's idea of providing boxes of food to low-income families rather than food stamps is an indication he can't relate to those who struggle to make ends meet.

"What we gonna do with the food boxes?  Some of us are homeless.  We don't have nowhere to keep the food box.  I keep my food stamp card in my pocket so I can eat every day," Washington said.

Supporters believe the food box plan, similar to Blue Apron dinners that are delivered to your home, will save $129-billion over the next 10 years.

But opponents worry it limits access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy food options for the poor.

Michael Iberis, the Executive Director of Second Harvest Food Bank, tried to get the White House on the line.  Iberis plans to offer the Valley as a testing site for America's Harvest Box program.

"Without a test site, how do you know what's going to work and not going to work?  We don't want to fix something that isn't broken.  So we need to test this idea. We need to test this concept to see whether or not it is going to work or whether it needs some tweaking," Iberis said.

However, some people like Annette Davis of Warren says it's a step back to the 1940s when food was rationed and the poor received powdered milk and cheese.

"I feel that we should be able to buy anything we want, and he should not be giving us what they want people to eat.  You know, you want to be able to go to the store and buy anything you want to eat for you and your family," Davis said.

According to The White House, the new boxes would go to households who receive $90 or more in food stamps per month.

The proposal says that all food would be grown domestically and include non-perishable items such as juice, pasta, canned meat, and beans.

But the supermarket industry would end up a loser in the program, because food stamps represent 7.5% of sales, according to Customer Growth Partners.

Walmart alone profits from one-fifth of all food stamp sales.

Some feel the proposal would increase costs in some areas and that includes having the infrastructure and operations to prepare the boxes of food.

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