Barbara Lee

Perdue to food box critics: Give the idea a chance

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday defended a proposal that would replace a portion of food stamp benefits with pre-assembled boxes of shelf-stable goods delivered to recipients' doorsteps — an idea one lawmaker called "a cruel joke."

The idea was first floated last week in the Trump administration's 2019 budget proposal, tucked inside 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 backlash was fierce and immediate, from nutrition experts, advocacy organizations and lawmakers alike. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., top Democrat on the House Agriculture...