(CNN Money) — Think of it as Blue Apron for food stamp recipients.

That’s how Budget Director Mick Mulvaney described the Trump administration’s proposal to replace nearly half of poor Americans’ monthly cash benefits with a box of food. It would affect households that receive at least $90 a month in food stamps, or roughly 38 million people.

“USDA America’s Harvest Box is a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families — and all of it is homegrown by American farmers and producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a statement. “It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers.”

Part of the president’s fiscal 2019 budget blueprint, the idea immediately sparked concerns and questions among consumer advocates and food retailers. They feared it would upend a much-needed benefit for more than 80% of those in the program.

Related: Why Trump’s budget proposal is too optimistic on deficits

Here’s how it would work:

Instead of receiving all their food stamp funds, households would get a box of food that the government describes as nutritious and 100% grown and produced in the U.S. The so-called USDA America’s Harvest Box would contain items such as shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. The box would be valued at about half of the SNAP recipient’s monthly benefit. The remainder of their benefits would be given to them on electronic benefit cards, as before.

The administration didn’t detail exactly how families would receive the food boxes, saying states could distribute them through existing infrastructure, partnerships or directly to residences through delivery services.

The proposal would save nearly $130 billion over 10 years, as well as improve the nutritional value of the program and reduce the potential for fraud, according to the administration.

Related: How Trump plans to cut prescription drug prices

Consumer advocates, however, questioned whether the federal government could save that much money by purchasing and distributing food on its own. Also, they were concerned that families would not know what food they would get in advance nor have any choice regarding what they receive. Plus, it could be difficult for families to pick up the box, especially if they don’t have a car.

“It’s a risky scheme that threatens families’ ability to put food on the table,” said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook

  1. The time is now at hand to impeach Mr Trump as President. He is suffering from a mental illness. He is having delusions of grandeur. We do not tell people in the United States what they can or can’t eat. We are a democracy and not a dictatorship. We ran the British out of this country now it is time we impeach Mr Trump. That is the problem today people who are rich trying to hold the poor american’s down and take every benefit they have away so they can waste money on the military. Food stamps is a state run program mostly. Trump does not care for the poor because they did not vote for him! Impeachment time is NOW! I say this under 1st amendment freedom of speech and a democrat! He should not have been elected at all.

Leave a Reply to Kevin Ellison Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Baltimore

Track Weather On The Go With Our App!
CBS All Access
Download Our App

Watch & Listen LIVE