Thursday, June 25, 2009

Food Stamps: A Rant

So I was volunteering at the co-op as a cashier and this kid comes through the line. Probably early 20's, sorta hippie looking, able-bodied. He bought a bottle of Kombucha (a trendy fermented health beverage, $4 for 20 oz.) and a fancy large organic dark chocolate bar ($3.50). He paid with his electronic food support card, money from the government, money from taxpayers like me WHO RARELY BUY TREATS LIKE THIS FOR THEMSELVES BECAUSE I'M RESPONSIBLE WITH MY MONEY!!!!


I was pissed, in disbelief. I cannot figure it out. How does this happen? How do people like this get these kinds of benefits? Either this kid didn't really need the benefits, the gov't was giving him too much $$, or all he ate the entire day was kombucha and chocolate. I'm betting on one of the first two - probably, sickeningly, the first.


There are actually 2 issues making me angry here - first, the stupidity of the government, and second the lack of pride and responsibility of people who abuse these services. The second issue especially hit home when I went to see The Greatest Generation exhibit at the Minnesota History Center the next day.


Ok, that's my rant.


Cheers, K

29 comments:

  1. I've had similar feelings--like when I go to the grocery store and the people in front of me buy junk food with their foods stamps and then alcohol and tobacco with their cash.

    I know that there are those out there that truly do need the help, but it is so frustrating to so those that abuse it.

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  2. Darn Hippies! Seriously though, as someone who really needed food stamps to eat (a long time ago) it is an essential governmental program, i.e. Feed the Hungry. Nonetheless, it is abused and monitored/enforced by the government(you can get change back and if you make enough purchases have money for smokes and wine). I think as long as the purchase has "nutritional" value, the feds won't get too involved with telling you how to spend it. Anyway, just another bleeding-heart liberal counterpoint!

    Mark

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  3. I hardly see this purchase as an abuse of services. you have no idea what he was going to do with this. perhaps he was having a rough day and this was a gift to himself or another person. if i was on food stamps i would certainly have to give the gift of good food. you don't really know what the circumstances are behind this. i have two good friends who are in food stamps and still care about their bodies. they want organic food just as much as anyone else.

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  4. I take offense to this as a working mother of 5 who receives food stamps because there are no consequences for deadbeat dads who refuse to pay child support.I think I deserve just as much as anyone else to feed my family healthy foods...organic or otherwise.Do I think there are people that abuse the system? absolutely! But I also think the people like myself that really need the assistance often come across these attitudes that we are lazy or irresponsible ..which is not always the case!!!It is a broken system simple as that...if the fathers were forced to pay...less single moms would be forced to use these programs and endure the embarassment and ridicule heaped upon us.Americans should be embarassed that nothing more is being done to ensure fathers feed their children.Just MY rant

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  5. You're only allowed to take offense if you're an early-twenties, single guy capable of employment, and if you're living on $4.00 drinks and chocolate bars. I'd never disparage a single mother trying to keep her family healthy.

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  6. i don't think i've ever commented on a blog i stumbled across before, but i really can't NOT comment on this. please consider re-educating yourself on this issue. have you ever known anyone who volunteered to work for teach for america or americorps or any other kind of program that aims to improve the world but puts you below the poverty line? have you ever known someone who couldn't find employment in a disastrously poor economy like we're in currently? if so, i'd wager they were on food stamps. and they probably bought food sometimes that was far worse for their bodies than organic chocolate and kombucha. and that purchase was probably the highlight of their entire week.

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  7. It is so easy to abuse! I can't believe it!
    I got foodstamps today under pressure from my mom (because I'm looking for work), and they practically handed the money over to me after a 3 minute conversation without any heavy questioning. The whole system definitely needs to be reformed and harder to get into.
    So, I will be purchasing CSA organic produce boxes so at least I can funnel the money back into something that matters for my community and get to eat great at the same time.

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  8. I work at a high-end grocery store and see this all the time. It sickens me what people are allowed to buy, like $45 of gourmet cheese, CASES of Kombucha, $20 cuts of meat, loads of prepackaged meals (at $7.99 a piece)and $12 salads from the salad bar. Meanwhile, I am slaving away bagging their groceries so I can purchase some potatoes and banans to feed my family. I understand some people desperately need government assistance, and those that use it responsibly, I have no problem with. But, time and time again, I see people buy a bunch of crap on their food stamps cards, then whip out some cash to pay for that $20 bottle of wine they have. Wish I could live like that.

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  9. Maybe that guy was a full-time student. What about all the single dads? How can people assume what someone is paying with. These new food stamp cards are treated just like debit or credit cards...nosey people. Where's the love?

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  10. I completely understand and agree that this system has to be a bit more strict. I hate to admit but one of my good friends is actually making it a goal to evolve into a complete leech off society. He and a few of his roommates are all able-bodied kids in their mid twenties coming from upper middle class families. All of which are college educated, and ALL of which on food stamps. I understand that it is a tough economy, but they are making a point of not even trying to find a job, and if they do work only 10-15 hrs a week. Its honestly really frustrating, and in my eyes incredibly lazy and selfish. I understand the need for the program and god forbid if it was too harsh to the point that it made families starve, but these kids are blatantly abusing the system and something should be done.

    Well.. there is my rant.

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  11. I am a single mom on food stamps. I'm a self employed artist and my income has dropped 90% in the past couple of years. I could find a different job, but I would have to walk away from the business I have spent the last decade building. My son, who is disabled, would have no way of getting to the local Jr. College either. I just qualified for food assistance and they made me jump through so many hoops, being self employed, that it was unbelievable. I gave them the profit and loss statements that they requested and then had to simplify them because they were too complicated for SRS to understand. As of now I'm trying to ease into eating raw, which isn't easy to do on food assistance. There are two adults and one teenager who is here part time that I have to feed on $177/month. For Thanksgiving I did purchase a few items that some folks may have raised an eyebrow in judgment about thinking that they were luxury items (olives, artichoke hearts, etc). That was a choice that I made because we have much to give thanks for. That's okay though. I know the truth; and the truth is that now we are pantry and fridge challenged for the next few days until my benefits renew on the 11th of the month. I buy Angel Food boxes, I accept commodities from a friend who gives me what he doesn't use, and nothing around here goes to waste. My neighbors abuse the system - but that's their choice and problem. I know many many others who do not, and many more who need help and wouldn't dream of asking for it. The liars and cheaters will get what's coming to them eventually, and getting angry about them only pulls you down.
    Now, if anyone knows where I can find information about how to gradually introduce raw foods on my limited food budget I'd be very grateful for the links!

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  12. Dear Raw Food Real People Person, your rant came up when I was doing a Google search trying to figure out if I could get a Kombucha with my food stamp card... It sort of struck a nerve!

    Does it seem to you as if people that are on food stamps should not pay attention to their health?

    As someone that is currently transient and using food stamps, I have also worked in the social services for the past six years (and actually have three interviews coming up this week). Keeping this in mind, I feel strongly that it is a necessary and vital aspect of the food stamp program to allow consumers to make their own decisions about what they use their allowance for. The independence that this create is necessary to create a sense of dignity. Food pantries, shelters, and handouts may provide additional nourishment if necessary, but as someone that has been on both sides of the system, I feel that it is safe to say that at the end of the day, it means more to be able to choose to 'splurge' on an occasional dark chocolate bar or organic avocado than to have a massive quantity of groceries every week.

    Beyond supplying nutrition, learning to budget with a food stamp card is a great way to learn to practice budgeting skills in the rest of life--quite important for persons that have been unemployed for periods of time.

    As a last note, I feel that much of the judgment that comes up around food stamps and what low-income people should and should not be using them on hints at some much broader issues around privilege and entitlement--who society deems worthy and not worthy of having healthful, enriching lives.

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  13. Wow I'm always surprised we're still getting comments on this post so much later!

    Anyway, in short, here's what I believe:

    YES people on food stamps should pay attention to their health! But I don't believe this includes buying Kombucha or organic dark chocolate.

    I do NOT believe anyone living off other people's money should have a broad choice about what they eat.

    It makes me sick to see parents standing in the grocery store line buying complete crap food with food stamps.

    I believe the government should have special centers for people on food stamps where they go to get rations of staples - rice, beans, fruits, veggies, etc. Or at least be very limited as to what they can buy at the grocery store.

    I do NOT believe food stamp dollars should be going towards any sort of brand name processed or specialty foods, whether they are "health" foods or not.

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  14. This is ridiculous. The people who get these food stamps are tax payers as well. I was working 40 hours a week until I went on a leave of absence due to a broken foot and since my job (which is a grocery store) doesn't give me medical pay, I am on food stamps. I pretty much only eat vegetables, lentils, grains, etc. Is it so bad that I get myself a little treat every now and then? Yesterday I bought $100 worth of groceries on food stamps and did not get any snacks or cookies cause I am scared of the cashier judging me, but getting a little treat sometimes is okay. If the government had such an issue with it, they would have done something about it already. There are way worse things people do with their food stamps. I know someone very close to me that goes into the grocery store with a relative, the relative picks out the groceries they want, the person buys the groceries with the EBT card, and then the relative gives her cash in return. If you compare that to buying yourself a trendy drink and chocolate bar, it really isn't that bad.

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  15. If only people understood the US Constitution. You do not have a RIGHT to food. There is No right to consume food or feed children any particular food and there is no generalized right to bodily and physical health.

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  16. food stamp.... ugh what to say. i work for a warhouse. sams club. i live in baltimore not the best area. i get mothers that buy cases of starbucks frapp drinks and cacses of redbujll that are 40 bucks a case. why would anyone on food stamps need to waste 40 bucks on an energy drink?? very bad for you. also i have had a woman getting 40 dollar lobster tails with her food stamps... but somehow she had money to buy a 260 dollar i pod. its really sickning to me. why would people try to find work if they are living better then the average working person. im sick and tired of living pay check to pay check while others get of living of my hard earned money. dont get me wrong some people do need stamps... but use them the way they r sopposed to be used. most deadbeats have children knowing the government will take care of them and thier children.

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  17. I have cured week long ailment with Kombucha. I think the comment you made sounds patronizing in calling it Trendy. Although some dispute the benefits of kombucha, which like all things is relevant to the consumer, i think the benefits of kombucha can be tremendous. I appreciate your frustration but your choice for a rant target seems curious since so many other much much worse "food" products are purchased with food stamps. Thanks for your thoughts,, Eric

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  18. Speaking from El Paso, Texas. Another angle on food stamps: I object to funding the national epidemic of obesity. Yesterday I stood in line behind a 300 pound woman who bought soda pop, candy, doughnuts and 10 pounds of lunch meat with her food stamp card. Sorry, I don't think we're doing her a favor.....and us taxpayers are probably paying for her diabetes medicine as well. No one in this country should go hungry --- but there has to be a better way!

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  19. WOOOWWW how judgmental is that on OP?!! My man works 40 hours a week. i believe with the 25% tax cut on every check we are paying for our OWN "trendy" meat and "luxurious" chocolates. Although we still limit our wants, we have stacked vegetables, and non perishable vitamin+mineral enriched foods in our cabinets. and make sure our daughter has a full belly three times a day. Why don't you take those comments and do your statistic research before you go off calling people pretty much the scum of the earth. You think we ENJOY paying with this cheap plastic money? umm no. You say the government are giving us too much?? Why don't you do the research on what the price consists of, of living and thriving in this country. Then go research on how long it takes an average young adult to find even a burger flipping job. here i'll do it for you... 13-25 weeks, that's the average time it takes a young adult to find a job. as for school, look at the statistics for drop outs, and then wonder what stupid ass dumb ass crowds they were running with, and go see if all of those little thuglets dropped out too, my bet is yes. kids are growing up to be bastards and ungreatful pricks. This economy is going to collapse, and you "middle" class bigots are going to be busted down to the bottom with us. and don't be coming to our doors knocking because you wont get a blanket, not a damn thing. The poor are prepared for this collapse. why don't you quit being a troll and go prepare like we are. you'll be on strict food tamps, like you wanted them to be, and see if you don't dream of the awesome delicious foods that aren't on the EBT list.... BITCH!!!! delete this post if you like, maybe a few of our own will get a read on this one! We all need to draw together to fight this depression that is close to closing in on us!!! do your research PLEASE!

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  20. What the fuck is wrong with people? i work full time, and after the government takes their illegal cut out of my income, i net under 1000 bucks a month. rent is 600, bills run 200-300, which leaves me enough for diapers, and barely scraping gas. i'm on food stamps. and you know what? if i can manage to come up with 15 extra bucks throughout the month, i'll buy some beer, and pay for my peanuts with foodstamps. spending your hard earned money? you judgmental ignoramus, i'm only spending what our fine governmental establishment thought they were entitled to since i'm 'their' citizen. u sir, can take your ignorant ass to hell, and bag satan's groceries while he shove pineapples up your tight little ass, backwards. fuck you and have a great day!

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  21. My life fell apart, and i am not being hired by anyone. i still have to pay 650 in rent or live on the streets. with food stamps i would not change what i buy, or start buying unhealthy, gmo, preservative, soy/corn flavor derived, chemical laden, canola/palm oil, irradiated crappy prepackaged food with tons of factory farmed meats. for that i would not start buying meats. my monthly food budget comes in around 80-120 per month with enough stuff for myself to freeze for soups and "leftovers" when i am worn out. I would be that a-hole that buys my kombucha, now i don't know if i can buy GTs original but that is do due to our over-regulated government. I haven't drank soda in over 10 years. I am not currently on food stamps and this is the reason why: i feel like i can suffer because i don't want to be that a-hole who doesn't try to fit a "poor" person stereotype. yet by going after more education for a job i need help. should i not look to actually improve my life? Im in this mess because food jobs and non-profits keep me paycheck to paycheck and when one collapses... Now the degree i chose nearly half my life ago did nothing but teach me to look at life, i do not regret it but come on.
    Besides random orange juice i drink my own (made with a blender and nut-milk bag, not some 500$ vitamix) or lemon water. lots of crappy filtered water with lemon. this is a raw blog. im sure you're on the bandwagon to make retirement out of it at some point. how did you not recognize the benefits of Kombucha. the is no comparison to GTs. poor people should not be relegated to the dollar menu. oh and yes if i can buy my chlorella and spirulina i will. sometimes those two in banana smoothies is all i need for the day. ($30+ dollars for at least 4 months, but i still have to buy it once and feel like the a-hole you want me to be. i don't care i ain't ODB)

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  22. I agree with other commenters here: there is no way to know how this person is budgeting to be able to fit some so called 'specialty' items into their budget. Maybe this guy (like me) writes down every expense, tallies his available money, and when he realizes that he has done a successful job saving and living on a budget for a month he give himself a treat. And since when is it acceptable to judge how a person looks to decide if they are deserving of aid? I can't stand that attitude. I doubt anyone would know that I'm on food stamps if they saw me walking down the street. This isn't because I am secretly rich or abusing the system, its because I take good and careful care of my appearance, my clothes, and the things I own. I don't have the money to go out to the movies, I don't have the resources to pay for TV, I don't have a smart phone, Ipod, or a lot of other expensive 'luxuries'. However, I love taking care of my body, I love eating healthily and I occasionally love drinking kombucha. I'm planning on buying one soon so I can actually grow my own scoby and start making my own (which by the way, is much cheaper). I make a lot of choices when I go to the grocery store, I buy bulk, I don't eat meat, I buy foods that are versatile and can be made to fit many nutritious menus. I don't appreciate being criticized by other people who don't know what I go through to make my diet possible. I would be blown away if you really couldn't afford an occasional bottled drink, you may choose to not budget for that kind of expense and I respect that, so respect me and how I choose to budget my minimal income and food stamp money so I can also live a happy healthy and satisfying life. Not everyone who is poor deserves to be punished for ending up that way, americorps volunteers, students, and happy families all are valid users of food stamps and I think you should get off your high horse and recognize that people don't only end up on food stamps because they aren't as smart, or talented, or hard working as you. Sometimes they end up there because that's just how things worked out for them. So let them buy the fucking drink and keep your small minded and uninformed opinions to yourself. Next time if you see someone buying an extravagant purchase of a $3 drink and a candy bar, think about giving up your morning coffee (which costs the same if not more) or your individually packaged yogurts (which are a rip off) or all of your meals at restaurants which people on food stamps don't have the resources to eat at.

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  23. You stupid women...mind your own business and be happy that you have a job as most people on SNAP wish they did. You're job is a sales associate....not God....you have no idea about this said person you're judging.

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  24. I am also a single mother with a 3 month old baby. He has MANY food sensitivities therefore I have to be very careful what I eat. I do shop at Whole Foods, or Sprouts when I can't find the things I need at the "regular" grocery store that will help me maintain my iron and protein levels. I also buy dark chocolate (my son had dairy allergies) bars once in a while with my SNAP benefits. When I was on antibiotics for a dental infection I purchased Kombucha for the probiotics. If I know how to budget the small monthly stipend I get in order to make these purchases, who are you to judge?! The young man you were judging had every right to buy what he did. If I were you I would reevaluate my judgmental attitude, try and find out what is really at the root of my anger.

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  25. Maybe you judgmental ppl should say it in their/our face when we check out @ the cashier of how to spend or what to buy with what we gratefully have.. instead of running your mouths on here. let's see how many others in the line may say their opinions. or MAYBE you should stop complaing and grow some balls and apply for foodstamps yourself! Worse thing that can happen is getting rejected. its really none of your business. i've been looking for a job since 2012 and still no job so me and my bf been living on his paycheck to paycheck for years. we were struggling so I applied for foodstamps and now we are just making it! we buy cookies and what not, but we know that we're limited so we make shit last. atleast we get a cookie here and there. & guess what, if you were to say anything to anybody with foodstamps, they won't give a rats Ass about what you judgemental ppl have to say. we have our reasons and its for you to not worry about.

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  26. Omg he bought HEALTH FOOD? How dare he not buy potato chips and ramen!

    Self-righteous cunt.

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  27. I can not even believe the how ridiculous this blog post is, let alone the judgmental and ill-educated comments people are making on this subject. I am a 30 year old man with a diagnosed medical condition, but to look at me you wouldn't think anything is wrong with me.

    I am on food stamps because of my limited ability to work, and I too have felt the icy-cold glares of some check out staff, or other shoppers because: A. I am using foodstamps, and B. I am actually buying healthy food.

    Everyone's situations are different, and it is none of YOUR business what I am buying with MY food benefits. Is it wrong for me to buy healthy foods because I go out of my way to plan what I am eating that week based on what is on sale? That is the only way I can make the $190.00 I get a month in SNAP actually last an entire month! Yet you are calling me a leach? Sorry but if the cheapest meat on sale in one store is wild caught shrimp, and then they have grass fed beef and free range eggs for sale in another store I buy those. Who are you to tell me what I am allowed to buy?

    You all talk about how the system is "broken" and needs reform. I don't know what states you live in, but I have to provide copies of my bank statements, and proof of how much money I make when I do work, letters from my landlord pertaining to what my rent and bills are, as well as a rigorous questioning about what I spend what little money I do have on. I would hardly call that a broken system. I think what seems to irk most of you is that we all aren't living off processed cheese, bread, and tap water...you know because that's what leaches like us deserve right?

    So many of you are uneducated about this topic, yet you spout your opinion like it's fact. You all think that there is a ton of food benefit abuse, and the FACTS show that is simply untrue. Food benefit fraud is at an all time low, because people actually NEED these benefits and will not risk lying to get them, because if you get caught you get kicked off.

    It's just sickening, it sounds to me like a bunch of people who are jealous they don't get free food, so they look down upon those who do that don't have babies hanging off their hips, or a visible disability.

    Sorry, but a single 20 something is a hell of a lot less of a drain on a program like this than a single mother with 5 kids. By the way, most states give food benefits to college students who are broke, which could have been this guy's situation. Or he could have a mother sick at home in bed with cancer who sent him out with her card to buy her something that would make her day a little more bearable.

    The bottom line is, you don't know anyone's situation, and you shouldn't really go around judging others unless you want to be judged. You all sound like a bunch of ignorant losers who need to be educated on the facts. Considering the price of food, and the MAXIMUM amount of money a single person can get a month is less than $200.00 believe me, none of us are living "high on the hog". If anything maybe your EBT rant should be more about how people go out and buy nothing but junk food, are obese and sick because of it, and then have to get government healthcare. All I know is you sound like a judgmental wench and I hope someday I can walk through your check out line with kombucha, grassfed beef, organic vegetables, chocolate, caviar and champagne and then only pay for the champagne in cash...just so I could see the look on your idiot face.

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  28. Wow. The OP is a total nimrod. Really? You're going to judge someone for buying HEALTHY food? If you do not think low-income individuals "living off other people's money" do not deserve to have a broad range of food choices to eat, then you must be a close-minded bigot. The government steals taxes out of everyone's paycheck and spends the money on wars and busting down people's homes in the middle of the night for drug offenses. This is a healthy eating blog. People are going to buy healthy food choices on food stamps. I buy GT's kombucha and organic & fair trade chocolate bars all the time on my food stamps and when I was making the $200 amount maximum benefits, I never went over my limit.

    You can make MORE kombucha out of the SCOBY you get when you buy a store-bought kombucha. Maybe this kid was doing that? Maybe he is a college student who is not capable of working full time (because the minimum wage is $7.25 [or $3.12 an hour if they are a tipped worker] and rent is $500-600 etc., etc.) You cannot work part-time and still be able to afford rent, bills, food, and whatever else. I bought a new car at a young age. I guess you're going to judge me now because had a $300 car payment each month (along with $180 car insurance) and was still subsisting off of SNAP benefits? At least this kid buying health foods will help keep our government-forced healthcare costs low. You should really be angry at all the non-food items you can buy on SNAP (Doritos, Frito's, Cheetos are hardly foods). Dumbfuck.

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