Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More on Food Stamp Abuse, And Why I Hate My Neighborhood...

I've already made it clear that I'm entirely against the abuse of the food stamp system.  It is an extremely costly pestilence in modern America, at least in the mythical wonder kingdom that is Crown Heights, Brooklyn.  In the entry I linked to earlier, I showed how people buying prepared foods (specifically $6 sandwiches) and are wasting taxpayer money, when they could instead use the money allotted them to buy the ingredients to make SEVERAL sandwiches, thereby saving a conservative estimate of $4.73.  After I wrote the said entry, I spoke with a friend of mine who upon last check currently lives among the pacifist Pennsylvania Quakers.  She brought to my attention that there is indeed something gravely wrong with the food stamp system, when a whole roast chicken ($4.99 this week at Key Food) which can feed 3 people and certainly nutritious cannot be purchased with an EBT card.  One may however go ahead and buy Little Debbie's Oatmeal Creme Pies and Coca Cola, which are the nutritive equivalent of a barren ice world at the edge of a solar system.
Clearly something is wrong there.
One can witness this kind of gross spending of taxpayer money any day, especially in Brooklyn.  And the worst part is that this is entirely legal.  The USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) actually has a website dedicated to items that  are and aren't eligible through their program.  It explicitly states that soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers and ice cream are all eligible in the program.  These are listed at known junk foods.  Steaks and seafood and even bakery cakes are also covered by SNAP, though they are listed at luxury items.  Now, it seems to me that if you're really strapped for money and trying to eke out a living with your family, you'd want to make sure that your family was eating all of their necessary nutrients.  While steaks and seafood may be counted as luxury items, there's no question that they are much better purchases than soda and junk food when it comes to pure nutritional value.  How bakery cakes are considered eligible food items in the SNAP program is BEYOND ME.
The problem is that some stores simply don't adhere to the guidelines of the food benefits programs.  In the example I brought up in my previous entry, I noticed that a woman purchased a deli-prepared sandwich for $6.25.  This was actually "okay" by the manager, even though prepared food items like sandwiches aren't covered by EBT.  But I never really thought at the time about how the store got away with letting the woman purchase the sandwich with her card.  And then I found out exactly how stores get away with it.
The other week I was in the Associated Supermarket on Nostrand Avenue.  We repeatedly have trouble with this store and the food benefits abuse that goes on in it.  It's not uncommon to stand in line while customers fight with the cashiers over what they can and cannot buy with their EBT cards.  The woman in front of me had a large number of items on the conveyor belt.  Several of them were not covered by the EBT program, and the woman was visibly disgruntled by this fact.  After more complaining from the customer, the cashier voided the items from the woman's original transaction and swiped the EBT card.  Transaction complete.  Right after that, she rang up all of the non-EBT eligible groceries as "assorted groceries."  Apparently any item labeled "assorted groceries" may be purchased with the EBT card.  Thus with two transactions, the woman got away with purchasing a whole bunch of items that CANNOT BE PURCHASED WITH EBT.
Now, what brought on this long, uncharacteristic tirade about food stamp abuse in my neighborhood?  Well, it may have something to do with the fact that someone in my neighborhood recently stole my debit card information to make an $1,106.16 purchase from the Microsoft store.  With neighbors like this, who needs enemies?  Expect full coverage of my dealings with identity theft when I hear more from the detectives of Brooklyn's 71st Precinct!

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