Friday, September 21, 2007

Food Stamps to buy junk?

I was in the store behind a woman in line with 2 kids. What I saw made me search out more information about food stamps, food stamp fraud, and shopping behavior. This family bought a couple gallons of milk with food stamps. It took quite a while, because not only did they have to fill out their little ticket and run it like a check through the machine, they had to run it as a separate transaction. You see, I don't think the government would be happy knowing they gave food stamps to this family if they knew what else they were buying.

When I sought out program requirements, I had to ask myself whether or not this particular family looked like someone who would qualify. Assuming she was married, she must have a household income of less than $1,613. The woman in front of me wearing nice clothes, sipping a Starbucks-whatever, and talking on a brand new Treo/Blackberry-type cellphone certainly didn't look like she was insolvent.

I suspect I had witnessed Food Stamp fraud.

Here's a little excerpt from a food stamp program:

Food stamp benefits...can be used in supermarket checkout lines only for the purchase of food.
What I witnessed instead was the food stamps, instead of buying food for hungry people, simply subsidized their other frivolous purchases. This family's cart (run up separately) also contained: a DVD player, several new DVDs, a case of Cola Cola, a case of beer, a few kid's toys, a cordless home telephone, and a bunch of other miscellaneous items that I didn't see.
Food stamps make it possible for such working poor families to stretch their income.
Yes it does. It is giving them free milk so they can buy $200 worth of frivolous junk. Our tax dollars hard at work.


Anonymous said...

To play the devils advocate here I thought I would point out that in one of your earlier posts you were talking about your debt and how you are still managing to afford a few luxuries to stay sane. Perhaps this woman was also choosing to afford a few luxuries to stay sane.

I don't necessarily agree with what our tax dollars go towards all the time, however, I do try to understand I may not always know the whole story.

My friends mother who is on disability and gets $600 a month to live on (to pay rent, medical, groceries, utilities, etc)also gets food stamps - in the whooping amount of $10!!! I read an article earlier this year about how a lot of states are losing money on the food stamp programs because people aren't applying - so it's not being utilized. I wrote the particular state and suggested that instead of losing money on the program they should up the amount everyone gets (in the case of my friends mother for example).

Also, I think they have to run up the food stamp purchases separately from the other purchases, however, I am not certain.

Nivek said...

Way back when I first got married I lived in a very poor neighborhood bacause I was poor. My wife and I were living off of beans and rice for the most part. We would go to the local discount grocery store and watch as the "welfare queens" filled up two shooping carts each full of junk food and then pay for it all with food stamps.

I have never been able to forget the anger of watching obese women buying twinkies with food stamps while my wife and I went hungry. This wasn't a one time event either. We witnessed this kind of thing all the time.

I know that not everyone getting public assistance abuses it but the system is rife with abuse. The current system rewards the abuser and punishes those who try to get off the system.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately whatever you subsidize increases and whatever you tax decreases.