Grocers say Trump’s SNAP plan would screw up a well run program
The Trump administration has unveiled its plan to reform and cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and it has grocers wondering why the president would want to blow up a well-run government program.
SNAP recipients, who receive more than $90 a month in benefits, would under the proposed plan get a preset box of foods and beverages including cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, canned meat, juice, pasta, peanut butter and shelf-stable milk. Recipients would be required to use their existing benefits to pay for the boxes with whatever remains being put on their EBT cards.
With the current system, recipients have their full benefits loaded onto cards and are able to make purchases on a wide variety of foods and beverages in dollar stores, supermarkets and other SNAP designated retail outlets selling groceries.
“FMI (Food Marketing Institute) and our members have worked with the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and the USDA over several decades to achieve a national system, utilizing existing commercial infrastructure and technology to achieve the greatest efficiency, availability and lowest cost,” said Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer at FMI, in a statement. “As we understand the proposal in the president’s budget to create a USDA commodity foods box of staples, each of these achievements would be lost.”
The National Grocers Association, which represents independent store operators, also found fault with the Trump proposal.
“SNAP is one of the most efficient federal social safety net programs because retailers are the linchpin of a successful public-private partnership,” said Greg Ferrara, EVP of advocacy, public relations and member services at NGA. “Fierce competition in the food retail industry drives consumer prices down, therefore benefiting those on a limited food budget more than anyone. NGA is extremely concerned with the president’s budget proposal, as it abandons the proven free-market model on the ill-advised assumption that the government can purchase and provide food more efficiently than its current private sector partners.”
Dollar store stocks were hard hit on news of the Trump administration’s proposals, Bloomberg reported. Both Dollar General and Dollar Tree saw their share prices decline on Monday. SNAP transactions make up roughly five percent of dollar store sales, according to according to Chuck Grom, an analyst at Gordon Haskett Research Advisors.
- Trump wants to replace food stamps with food boxes, for some reason – Vox
- FMI Cites Concerns With Administration’s FY2019 Budget SNAP Proposal – Food Marketing Institute
- NGA Statement on White House’s Budget Proposal – National Grocers Association
- Dollar Stores Hammered by Trump Proposal to Abandon Food Stamps – Bloomberg
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you support or oppose the proposed changes to the SNAP program made by the Trump administration? If enacted, how would you see the changes affecting grocery retailers?