Too many everyday people and political leaders hold dehumanizing views about vulnerable people. One such belief is that people who need help to make ends meet should cede most basic choices in their lives.

The Trump administration’s recent proposal to curb most of the food choices for people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits brought another aspect of this cruelty to the foreground.

As NPR reported, this proposal is part of the administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2019, and would need congressional approval to apply. At the moment, Americans who receive at least $90 per month would receive around 50 percent of their benefits as a “USDA Foods package.” This means most SNAP participant packages would contain “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruits and vegetables.” Supporters say the change would help state governments provide food at cheaper costs, save the SNAP program $129 billion during the next decade and streamline the process.

Experts disagree.

“They have managed to propose nearly the impossible, taking over $200 billion worth of food from low-income Americans while increasing bureaucracy and reducing choices,” Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a hunger advocacy group, said.

Frankly, the belief that people who need help obtaining necessities should not decide what goes into their bodies and the bodies of their loved ones is infantilizing. The notion that SNAP recipients do not deserve fresh fruits or vegetables, as both are missing from the proposed packages as if the items are exotic luxuries, reveals more about the governors than it does about the governed. 

“Removing choice from SNAP flies in the face of encouraging personal responsibility,” Douglas Greenaway, president of the National WIC Association, said. According to Greenaway, “the budget seems to assume that participating in SNAP is a character flaw.”

In 2016, around 44 million people participated in SNAP monthly. The annual cost was just shy of $71 billion. Most recipients were minors, older than 60 or disabled.

 

(Visited 1 times, 3 visits today)