SARASOTA, Fla. -- There may be big changes on the way for food stamp recipients. The federal government proposes giving recipients less cash on their EBT card in exchange for a box of non-perishable food.
Critics say the plan would hurt hungry families and the agencies that help feed them.
“I think it’s going to be damaging,” says Sandra Frank, CEO of All Faiths Food Bank.
All Faiths Food Bank in Sarasota helps supplement groceries to 65,000 people in Sarasota and DeSoto counties and many of them have food stamps. Critics say proposed cuts would overwhelm the program.
“If these programs are cut we won’t be able to keep up with the need in this community, we won’t,” Frank said.
“A strategy of a box of food takes us back 30 years."
The USDA estimates the program American Harvest Box would save $129 billion over a decade.
Frank said Harvest Box isn’t the solution to feeding the poor.
“That’s the direction all food banks are going away, from dry package non-perishable food and towards fresh. It has to do with the health of the individual.”
“I don’t think it would work,” said Joe Brown, who has an EBT card and said he likes shopping for his own food. “I don’t want something someone else packaged for me.”
At All Faiths, clients pick the foods they like to eat based on their needs.
“I don’t know if they can account for everybody’s dietary choices,” added Brown.
Frank said the government should be giving more not less to programs feeling the hungry. She said, “These are the very sustaining programs for the most vulnerable on our community.”
Florida is third -- behind California (No. 1) and Texas -- in the nation for use of food stamps in 2016, having redeemed $5.1 billion in food stamps that year.