President Trump's "Harvest Box" Proposal Would Threaten Most Vulnerable New Yorkers by Decreasing Access to Fresh, Healthy Food
Millions of Families, Children and Older Adults Expected to Have Their Benefits Slashed Up to 30% Under Destructive Proposal
Elimination of Work Requirement Waivers Will Impact Over 112,000 New Yorkers
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today called on Congress to protect New York's families and reject the federal government's devastating cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. An initial analysis by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance shows that more than 1.25 million households or 2.3 million New Yorkers would have their monthly food assistance drastically reduced under the President's proposed budget, which slashes funding for SNAP by approximately 30 percent.
"The Trump Administration's Harvest Box proposal makes their priorities crystal clear by slashing critical assistance to families in need to fund tax cuts for corporations," Governor Cuomo said. "This is an unnecessary change to an effective, important program and I urge Congress to reverse this effort to take food away from New York's hungry families."
SNAP helps more than 2.8 million New Yorkers, or nearly 1.6 million households, put food on their table. Nearly two-thirds of SNAP participants are in families with children. Forty-three percent of recipients are in families with older adults or someone who is disabled, and twenty-seven percent of total SNAP participants are in families that are working but earn too little to feed themselves. This proposed cut will impact approximately 80 percent of SNAP recipients in New York.
The following households and individuals face devastating cuts under the President's plan to shift from the current system to one where a portion of their benefit would be placed in a prepackaged, one-size-fits-all, box of food:
New York City
Rest of State
New York State
Economic analysis shows that every $1 SNAP benefit spent in New York State generates nearly $1.70 in economic activity. The President's "Harvest Box" initiative proposes replacing a portion of the SNAP benefit with boxes of food commodities; such as shelf-stable milk, ready-to-eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruits and vegetables. Through this archaic proposal, cutting millions of New Yorkers' spendable benefits in half will both have a massive effect on the state's economy, and severely limit families' ability to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables.
In addition, the "Harvest Box" proposal does not address how the benefit will be distributed to low-income individuals. If recipients are expected to travel to centralized distribution centers, many will rely on public transportation to shuttle an oversized, month-long supply of prepackaged food. Conversely, if containers are going to be shipped to individuals' homes, not only will safe and secure delivery be a concern, but logistical costs could be astronomical.
Other cuts in the President's plan are:
- The elimination of $23 million in SNAP Nutrition and Education grants for New York which assist low-income individuals learn techniques to maximize their SNAP benefit dollars to best provide their household nutritious meals.
- The elimination of the minimum benefit for one and two-person households, leaving approximately 91,000 New Yorkers ineligible for SNAP.
- Benefits for larger families will be capped, punishing multi-generational families who care for their older adult family members.
- Eliminate waivers that permits states to exempt individuals from very stringent federal work requirements while simultaneously raising the age of those work requirements from 50 to 62 years of age. This will affect over 112,000 New Yorkers.
This threatens the progress that New York has made under Governor Cuomo's direction to expand eligibility and increase access to SNAP:
- Working families can now earn more through employment and not risk losing their benefits, after the minimum threshold for qualifying income was raised from 130 percent of the federal poverty level to 150 percent.
- A record number of farmers markets throughout the state now accept SNAP benefits, providing direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables, while benefitting local farmers.
- Funding for the highly successful FreshConnect Checks program has been increased, which provides a $2.00 incentive for every $5.00 SNAP benefit spent at famers markets, increasing families' buying power by 40 percent.
- Funding has been increased by over $4.5 million for targeted SNAP outreach to eligible families, informing them of how to apply and access benefits.