In this Feb. 26, 2018 photo, Dianne Shenk talks to a customer in her Dylamatos Market in Hazelwood, Pa. About a quarter of Shenk's customers pay with benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, so the government's proposal to replace the debit card-type program with a pre-assembled box of shelf-stable goods delivered to recipients concerns her and other grocery operators in poor areas. "These boxes will be full of shelf-stable items, the same things we're being told not to eat," she said. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

'Harvest Boxes': Grocers fear for business, patrons' health

March 05, 2018 - 10:17 am

RANKIN, Pa. (AP) — Small grocers in poor areas worry about a federal proposal to replace food stamps with "America's Harvest Boxes."

Many say it could hurt not only their bottom line, but also their patrons' nutrition. Shoppers themselves have many questions about the proposal, for which details are few.

An administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture tells The Associated Press that he wants retailers and states to play a role in the program.

Brandon Lipps of the department's food and nutrition service says it's true a portion of food-stamp benefits would be withheld in favor of the harvest box. But he says shoppers would still receive roughly 60 percent of their benefits in cash to spend at grocery stores.

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