In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and emphasizing the importance of being prepared for a professional world, LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC) welcomed Angie Cruz on October 31st in the E-building’s Poolside Café. Ms. Cruz, who previously visited the campus in 2017, is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, writer of short stories and […]
Nearly 1.6 million New York families are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and purchase their preferred products. Even so, President Donald Trump plans to effectively alter the program by introducing the American Harvest Box.
On February 12th, 2018 the USDA and the Trump administration announced a new plan for all SNAP recipients to receive America’s Harvest Box. This box will contain selected federal government products including canned goods, processed peanut butter, pasta, and cereal. Eventually, that will mean families receiving food stamps will no longer have the opportunity to pick their products based on their preferences.
Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America – a non-profit group that provides New Yorkers with sufficient access to nutritious foods – disagrees with President Trump’s proposed plan. “They have managed to propose nearly the impossible, taking over $200 billion worth of food from low-income families while increasing bureaucracy and reducing food choices,” Mr. Berg said.
SNAP recipients are outraged over what President Trump has proposed for those dependent on food stamps. Many have gone out to protest to keep the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program standing. Residents of Pennsyl-vania have over 1.8 million recipients under food stamps. “It’s a program that really provides stability for families. Eighty-three percent of people under SNAP, their household includes an elderly person, a disabled person, or a child,” adds Traci Weatherford-Brown, chief of the Pittsburgh Food Bank.
Many students at LaGuardia Community College are very concerned for their families who receive this type of public assistance. Kevin Fuentes, a lower freshman whose cousins, a family of eight, are on stamps, said, “my cousins are constantly letting me know if they don’t work as hard as they do now, they’ll probably end up homeless, since they’re so dependent on this electronic card.” Mr. Fuentes also keeps an open-mind and understands why President Trump would want to implement this new program. Fuentes said that low-income families have to lie “just to be able to get into a program that sometimes is just not enough.” Fuentes also said, “I always see my cousins constantly buying junk food, which is exactly another reason why Trump would do this.”
Giselle Villares, who has been receiving food stamps for quite some time believes the proposed plan would be degrading. Coming from a family of five that lives in a one-bedroom apartment, she believes her family should receive more food stamp cash instead of receiving an American Harvest Box. She contrasts it with a Blue Apron box, an all American ingredient and recipe meal kit that partners with Friendly Farms products, which limits its chemical ingredients. Meanwhile, The American Harvest Box, containing canned and processed foods, such as heavy corn syrup, diced peaches, sardines, and fresh meats with additives. Ms. Villares has realized she’d rather have a Blue Apron subscription than continue being on food stamps. “It is absolutely humiliating how Blue Apron looks more tasteful and appealing.” Ms. Villares strongly hopes the proposed plan does not pass, because of the families who need the food stamp support. She concludes, “If they did sign off, my family would be struggling, and it would not be fair for my family to get this type of abuse just because of other people’s mistakes. Sometimes ignorance is blissful.”
Single Stop connects students with federal and state financial resources, with perishable food items, local community services to overcome financial barriers, and urges students to stay in school and graduate. At Single Stop, LaGuardia students have free access to a perishable and non-perishable food pantry where companies such as Trader Joe’s donate goods to LaGuardia. One source who works for Single Stop who wishes to remain anonymous understands why many students are furious with the situation. “If this proposed plan passes we would definitely send people to the Career Center and help them set-up a plan. This is not fair, not every family is committing fraud.”
Dietetic Technician major, Erica Iguina, has a mind of her own and defends her family who have been SNAP recipients for the past twenty-one years. With a disabled father and herself, the EBT program has significantly helped her family purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats. Miss Iguina’s monthly SNAP allotment is, “very helpful in providing food for myself, a college student, and my father.” She adds: “It really takes a burden off my shoulders to know that I can provide for my family in that way. I don’t know how I would pay for the food we need otherwise.” In regard to the The American Harvest Box including processed foods, she said: “I am lactose intolerant. Is The Trump Administration planning to have a special box and choosing special products for those who are either vegan, vegetarian, or just do not consume the products we are being given?”
Many students at LaGuardia are receiving food stamps, especially those who are single mothers. Although students believe the proposed changes to the program would reduce fraud, some argue that making major changes such as giving non-perishable items in a box is not only cruel but also a big waste. EBT recipient, Daisy Balbuena states: “He’s basically making fun of those of us who are low-income families. We already have limited control in buying perishable goods for one entire month and to send us a box? It’s dehumanizing!”