Possible food stamp replacement worries grocers nationwide

Possible food stamp replacement worries grocers nationwide

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - A federal proposal to replace food stamps with what is called "America's Harvest Boxes" is worrying some small grocers in towns across the nation.

President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2019 budget includes a proposed change to the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, most often referred to as food stamps. The program would trade food stamps for boxes of food.

"On reading about this federal proposal it does concern us in that we are a meal program that does accept food stamps from clients," Carolyn Fox with Mobile Meals of Toledo said. "A lot of them pay with their food stamps and that's all of their food stamps so hopefully they could still use those totally to support their meal program, because these people aren't people that could go out and like I said get food."

Many small grocers say exchanging food stamps for "America's Harvest Boxes" could hurt not only their bottom line, but also shoppers' nutrition.

"Our meals come prepared you heat them up, you have a nutritious meal, it's a protein it's a vegetable, it's a starch, they're really well rounded and really count calories and just very health conscious," Fox said.

Brandon Lipps of the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service says it is true that a portion of food stamp benefits would be withheld in favor of the harvest box, but he says shoppers would still receive roughly 60 percent of their benefits in cash to spend at grocery stores.

Staff at The Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food bank say they have not yet analyzed how these proposed food boxes would impact those they serve.

Mobile Meals of Toledo says about 10 percent of its clients pay for their meals with food stamps, but shoppers still have many questions, for which right now, there are few answers.

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