Politics

Agriculture secretary to food box critics: Give the idea a chance

A Blue Apron box at the company’s warehouse in Brooklyn in 2013. The Trump administration compared its proposed “Harvest Box” for food stamp recipients to the selections sent out by Blue Apron.
Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
A Blue Apron box at the company’s warehouse in Brooklyn in 2013. The Trump administration compared its proposed “Harvest Box” for food stamp recipients to the selections sent out by Blue Apron.

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is defending a proposal that would cut food stamp benefits in half and replace them with a box of shelf-stable goods delivered to recipients’ doorstep.

The idea was first floated last week in the Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal, tucked inside of a larger plan to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by roughly $213 billion — or 30 percent — over the next 10 years.

The plan has drawn harsh criticism, with one lawmaker calling it ‘‘a cruel joke.’’

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Perdue on Thursday said the plan is a work in progress and asked critics not to dismiss it.

‘‘We’re looking at innovative ideas, we’re looking to do more with less, we think it’s a reasonable way to do that,’’ Perdue said.