Boosting SNAP could give families more dignity than food boxes

The numbers are in: USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program—which was supposed to distribute 40 million packages of produce, dairy, and meat to hungry Americans—delivered just 25 million, FERN reports. That’s a 63 percent success rate, and one that comes with a harsh social cost. In cities across the country, people have had to wait in long lines to collect their food boxes, sometimes in poor weather conditions, and often at the risk of feeling stigmatized by neighbors for their need. It doesn’t have to be this way, argues food historian Andrew Coe in a New York Times op-ed. Instead, the federal government could boost food stamps benefits right now to mitigate food insecurity. Not only would this make grocery shopping more affordable, but it would give eaters a say in what they buy and eat. During a pandemic that has yanked away the nation’s sense of stability, a modicum of financial agency could do a lot for struggling families.