Controversy over Trump Administration plan to change food stamp benefits

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Trump Administration’s proposal to replace food stamps with pre-packed boxes of food. Trump Administration Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney compares cutting SNAP -- the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program -- and giving recipients a box of canned goods instead, to the gourmet food delivery service Blue Apron. But some Houstonians we spoke with say "gourmet" isn’t the word they would use to describe what the president is proposing.  

”It’s an atrocity to mankind,” says Edward Hansen.

The Trump Administration is proposing giving recipients who receive more than $90 a month half of that and a box of pre-packaged, non-perishable food instead.

"It deletes client’s choice and it assumes that one box is a one-size-fits-all approach,” says University of Houston Professor of Nutrition and Obesity Studies Daphne Hernandez.

"It’s humiliating, insulting,” adds Maria Palacios, who battles polio and isn’t always able to work.  "I think it’s pathetic that people in need would be put in a situation where they would have no choice."

"It’s treating people like second-class citizens. It's punishing people for poverty,” says Lydia Nunez Landry, who has a degree in social work but doesn’t always work because of Muscular Dystrophy. She says the disabled, senior citizens and kids will be hurt by the cuts.

”There’s a whole welfare, Cadillac, lobster myth which is just a racial dog whistle and that’s not really how it is,” says Landry. 

Elizabeth Rose recently escaped domestic abuse and depends on SNAP.  

"I’m terrified by the things that are going on. It’s bad enough I had to fight for years to get out of the domestic situation.  Now I feel like I'm fighting for my life again," she says.

The proposed plan is different from the non-profit food delivery service Meals On Wheels.  ”Because they’re homebound so they’re unable to go to the grocery store and many of them are unable to cook for themselves,” explains Heather Saucier with InterFaith Ministries for Greater Houston.  

It’s also been compared to but is different from the Blue Apron healthy food subscription. 

"First of all there’s no fresh fruits and vegetables in this box. Second of all it is not being delivered at home,” says Hernandez. She says recipients would be inconvenienced by having to pick up the box.  

Those we spoke with are also concerned about the unhealthiness of a box full of canned food which is usually high in fat, sugar and sodium.   

This is just a proposal right now. The plan would have to be approved by the House and the Senate.