Perdue wants to revive Harvest Box
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is still enthusiastic about the idea of providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants with boxes of food in lieu of half their grocery purchasing benefits, the Food and Environment Reporting Network said, even though the idea was scorned last year.
Asked if the “Harvest Box” program would be part of USDA budget proposals for next year, Perdue replied, “I hope so, yes. Sure. At the least, I would hope that Congress will trust us with a pilot project. … At least give us a chance to demonstrate the efficacy of that program.”
The USDA estimated last spring that it could save $129 billion over 10 years with such a program through volume purchasing of foods such as cereal, pasta, peanut butter, beans, and canned meats, fruits, and vegetables. It planned on shipping the boxes to 80 percent of SNAP recipients, FERN noted.
“I think it’s a great idea, frankly,” said Perdue, who was credited with the concept. “With our SNAP recipients, we think they can have fresh fruits and vegetables and a good value meal cheaper than we are providing it now.”
“It was, is, and will continue to be a proposal to drastically cut benefits,” said Stacy Dean of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank. “We don’t anticipate Congress being any more interested next year than they were this year.”