People Are Who They Are!

Food Stamps are for FOOD!

I’ve wanted to scream this out for months now. I work at a dollar store that sells all the basic food stuff that you need in a household. I live in a poor area so probably a third of the customers in the store are on food stamps. I wouldn’t have a problem with that except for the fact that I watch what these people buy. I’ve been there long enough now that I can accurately say, more than three fourths of what these folks buy with food stamps is junk food. Sodas, chips, cookies and candy are the majority of what comes through my line being purchased with food stamps. It is absolutely ludicrous. Oh yes, and did I mention that this is the second most obese state in the country?

Alabama came in third for the most adult diabetes and high blood pressure rates and fifth for physical inactivity. The reports state that poverty and obesity go hand in hand. Well, duh! If you aren’t working and you live on food stamps and all you do is go to the store and buy junk food and go home and sit in front of the television and eat it, you are going to become obese.

There is a simple fix for this in my opinion. Food stamp purchases should be limited to good foods only. No candy or sodas should be allowed to be purchased with them. The POS systems in stores are set up to separate foods from non foods so that the total can be paid for appropriately. It would be easy to change the settings to not allow the purchase of junk food items and it should be done. I don’t mind knowing that my tax dollars are going to help feed people that really need to be fed, but it bothers me a lot to know that it is going to fund someones junk food habits, especially when those habits are leading to obesity which is then going to cause more of a strain on the health care system.

Come on people! And I’m screaming at legislators, this is a simple fix. Is anyone looking at what is purchased with these food stamp cards? The records are all there in the majority of stores. POS systems all over the country keep very detailed records of purchases every day. Look at your own grocery store receipts the next time you shop and you will see that it tells you exactly what you purchased and how you paid for it.

Here are some numbers for you to mull over:

More than 44.5 million Americans received SNAP benefits in March of 2012. That’s an 11% increase from a year ago and nearly 61% higher than the same time four years ago.

Nearly 21 million households are reliant on food stamps.

It cost taxpayers more than $68 billion last year, that’s double the amount in 2007.

Nutrition assistance now accounts for about 67% of the USDA’s budget compared with 26% in 1980.

As I did a bit of research on this, I found that there has been attempts to get the government to limit what can be purchased or not but they continue to say it would be too complicated to decide what can be purchased or cannot. I don’t see where it is really that complicated. Make a decision and that’s that. They used to do it (or maybe still do) with the WIC program. There were certain products that were allowed such as beans, milk, cheese, healthy cereals and so forth. The food stamp program should be the same way.

They say that the government should not be able to dictate what people eat or don’t eat. Well, if the government is paying for it, they should darn well be able to dictate it. And might I remind people that WE are the government. So if I take $20 out of my pocket and give it to you to buy food with, then I expect you to buy food, not a six pack of sodas and a bunch of candy.

Just a little footnote to add: Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken have been trying to get the government to allow Food Stamp purchases in their restaurants. REALLY???? I”m not one to normally get on the soap box about such issues and Lord knows, I don’t think a post on Word Press will really do any good, but this is so out of hand. Food Stamps really should be just for FOOD!




15 responses

  1. I totally agree! We are paying twice. Once for the food and then for the doctors. I’m reminded of something a customer said to me one day. She said” First the government pays you to get sick and it can pay you to get well.” I wouldn’t mind so much if they weren’t doing it with my money. Food stamps should be for the same items as WIC. If it’s good enough for children, then it’s good enough for everyone. I don’t want anyone to go hungry, but that’s not the problem anymore. You go, girl! I’ll get on your bandwagon!!

    May 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm

  2. Thanks CbD. I’m telling you, it’s just terrible to watch. The children are huge already and they are brought in and allowed to buy handfuls of candy and two liter drinks for themselves. I’m not a big taxpayer by any means being low income myself, but a lot of people are and I don’t think most of them have a clue what really goes on. You really have to be a cashier to see it.

    May 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  3. Careful, Deb. This is a pretty touchy subject for me. Yes, I even wrote a letter to the editor on this point.

    I am on food stamps. I am obese. Yes, all (I’ve got a handful of them now) my doctors are on my case about it. Yes, I have bought junk food on food stamps. I did buy garden seeds with food stamps… yes, you can do that.

    I had a big long post that I just deleted. I do not feel like I should have to defend myself. I am struggling to do the right thing and I do not need this right now.

    May 26, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    • Jak, I have been on food stamps myself. I have purchased junk food myself. But what I am witness to here, is people that are spending the majority of their food stamps on junk food. This is money that OTHER people are paying and it is supposed to be to help people that need help, not fund their bad habits. If you are going to the grocery store and spending three quarters of your food stamps on junk then you are wrong. I don’t think you do that, do you?

      May 27, 2012 at 7:18 am

      • I’m pretty sure it’s not up to 3/4, no. Yeah, there’s some junky stuff here and there, but I’m actually a good cook and make the main meals healthy– or at least reasonably healthy.

        We’re growing a garden this year now that we’re in a house. I didn’t know that garden seeds can be bought with food stamps. We found out a few months ago when buying some at the grocery store. I fully expected to pay for them separately, but they counted. When I did a review for benefits later, I looked it up in the rules… yep, sure enough, they counted. But how many people actually KNOW this? I couldn’t have been the only one.

        We were in an apartment complex where garden plots weren’t allowed and we just didn’t have the right exposure to try to grow anything in pots. Plus many of the neighborhood kids ran like wild animals. If I scolded them… they vandalized anything outside our door. We had water delivery service but we had to tell the company repeatedly NOT to leave water bottles outside or the kids would steal and break them.

        I know there are some people that look like shiftless bums… but I have to point out that even if some of them were more industrious, they’ve got some real obstacles in their way.

        May 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm

  4. I think it would be much more useful to point out what GOOD things can be purchased with food stamps… rather than petition to ban what is BAD.
    I mean, how many people do you think know garden seeds can be purchased? As I said, I didn’t know myself until I happened to find out incidentally– pure happenstance, if you will.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:16 am

  5. Hey,Ladywise! I’m behind on commenting but it’s nice to see you back. I’ll be browsing your blog today, I look forward to it. 🙂 I SO agree that alcohol should be off the list. Beer is not food. it’s that simple.

    On the other types of snacks, I think it’s a tricky thing. If we ban potato chips, what about a Mom buying a child’s favorite cereal? Most of that stuff, despite the false claims, is just sugar. What about peanut butter or iceburg lettuce? Almost no nutrients.

    I think a better solution would be to reward people for working or volunteering for their food stamps.

    May 27, 2012 at 8:36 am

    • Hi sweetie! I’m glad to be back. My life was truly in an uproar for a while with that job! I have settled down now and can get back to having a life and being happy.

      I know this is a touchy subject but I wish that people could stand at the counter with me for a day and see what I’m seeing. I didn’t mention it in the post but you can see the balance on their cards when the receipt prints out and they are getting hundreds of dollars at the time so they can afford to waste the money. It isn’t meant for them to spend casually. It’s meant to keep them from starving. Sodas and chips and candy are expensive and I don’t think taxpayers should foot the bill for those types of things. I don’t think alcohol can be bought with food stamp cards, but then we don’t sell alcohol in our store, but if it can, then that is definitely wrong wrong wrong!

      May 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

      • I saw that about your job. I am overjoyed for you that you took a less psychotic work schedule. Sometimes it’s just abuse when someone makes you work that hard for so little reward. You are awesome for sticking it out that long.

        I forgot to say, the good news is some states (or federal?) food stamp programs are now good at farmer’s markets!! To me that is a huge step. It would solve the problem completely if the govt ONLY allowed food stamps at good markets, butcher stores or health food places, got people good transportation and also promoted birth control so poor families did not end up as a family of six.

        Also everyone would feel better if people on food stamps or unemployment had to do community chores, like help with a community garden once a week or take classes. Off season I am on unemployment and many jobs pay less than what I get for sitting at home, on top of that I would have to give up my health insurance to take the job! Volunteering for me is a way to meet people and make connections.

        Cheers, lady. Nice to have you around again.

        May 27, 2012 at 9:16 am

    • like, say, gleaning programs? I’d do it… we find out about such opportunities mostly through church, and I’m still trying to find more.

      May 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm

  6. 1. as Jaklumen said, you can buy seeds and fruit and veg plants with food stamps which is super awesome. 🙂
    2. the government will not put their foot down on those types of food because those are some of the largest political donors, to say that pepsi and pepsico companies, well they are owned by monsanto, the lovely people who brought us roundup and and GMO foods. Their lobbyists give MILLIONS and millions of dollars every year to not have these “foods” excluded from anything. They are the ones trying to get fast food places able to accept food stamps. Here is what monsanto, a chemical company owns.
    Aunt Jemima (Quaker) Betty Crocker (General Mills) Bisquick Duncan Hines Hungry Jack Jiffy Ms. Butterworths Peppridge farms (campbells) Aurora Foods Kraft/Phillip Morris (post cereals) Hershey’s Nestle (Carnation) Holsum (interstate bakeries) Best foods (Knorr) Kellogs Nature Valley
    Nabisco (Phillip Morris) Pillsbury Heinz Hellmans Hunts KC Masterpiece Frito-lay/Pepsi Delicious brand cookies Famous Amos Keebler/Flowers Industries Banquet Green Giant Healthy Choice (ConAgra) Kid Cuisine (stouffers) Lean Cuisine (stouffers) Marie Callenders Ore-ida Smart ones Power Bar Brand Chef Boyardee Hormel Loma Linda Morningstar Lipton (Unilever) Uncle Ben’s Rice-a-roni/Pasta-roni Tombstone Pizza Totinos Orville Redenbacher Pop Secret Pringles (Procter and Gamble) Coca Cola Minute Made Pepsi Cadbury/Sweppes Capri-sun Cool-aid Ocean Spray V-8 Prego Pasta Sauce Ragu sauce.

    3. they have been putting addictive chemicals in these “foods” it took me a couple years to ween these foods out of my life and every time I say “oh a little stove top stuffing on thanksgiving wont be bad” I get such a strange hunger for the next week or so. I want white bread and cookies and all sorts of processed foods I normally dont eat anymore. The chemical wakes up that addicted part of me and it is hard to say no to it.

    eating junk food is slowly killing our nation, starving ourselves to death. We want and crave food and when we feed it pepsi or chips it does not give our body what it is craving, real vitamins and minerals and fiber, we feel hungry more often and we crave these bad foods because we are addicted to them… vicious cycle.

    I think what Jaklumen is doing is a great first step, starting to take control of your food. knowing where your food is coming from is huge.

    okay I am done with the soap box now… who is next? 🙂

    May 27, 2012 at 9:13 am

    • That is a great point, those “food” companies are evil and had me hooked a good part of my life as well. As I told lady wise, maybe the stamps should be limited to farmers markets and butcher stores, and leave some for health food stores. And force the price gouging to come down.

      May 27, 2012 at 9:20 am

    • Hi Lav! Nice to hear from you. Thank you so much for the obvious work you put into your reply. I agree completely that there is a great deal of wrong going on here. Like I said, people can make the choices that they want to make about what they eat or don’t eat. But when they are paying for it with OTHER people’s money, then OTHER people should get to have a say about it. The thing is, most of these OTHER people don’t know what is going on.

      Let me pose it like this: If a lady that lived down the street from you that you really didn’t know anything about, knocked on your door today and said, “Ma’am, my children and I are hungry. Can you give me $20 to buy some food with?” And you said, “Awww, I’m so sorry, but I can’t afford to give you $20.” And in the next hour, a tax agent came buy and said “Ma’am, give me $20 for your taxes or I will take it out of your bank account.” And you had no choice so you handed the tax agent $20. Then you watched as the tax agent went down the street and gave it to the lady and her kids. Then you watched as the lady took that money and went to the grocery store and you watched her come out with a twelve pack of sodas, about $3.00, a big bag of chips, about $3.50, a pack of Chips Ahoy cookies, another $3.50, a candy bar for each of the kids, about $2.00, and then maybe a gallon of milk and a few decent items with the leftover money, wouldn’t you be upset?

      My point is, these folks are handed a debit card and given free reign to buy pretty much whatever they want with the money and no one is monitoring that. Having a snack every now and then is one thing. But spending the money mainly on snack food or junk food is different. This is money that is meant to keep people from starving to death, literally, and instead it is being used basically for entertaining their habits. I’m not saying that everyone does this, but there are a lot of people doing it. And they are doing it at YOUR expense. While you and millions of others are out working jobs that you don’t want to work but have to in order to stay afloat, and paying your taxes like you are supposed to do, they are taking your hard earned money that you could be enjoying yourself, and sitting at home and feeding their kids into obesity on your dime and it’s your dime again that is going to foot the bill when they get diabetes or any other health problems. I don’t think it is fair to you and all the others that it affects. Like I said, I am low income and pay out very little in taxes so it really doesn’t affect me that much financially. But because I work a low income job, I’m the one that sees what is going on first hand.

      The worst part of it to me is that I watch the lady that buys junk food with a food stamp card and runs that card carefully so as not to mess up the nails she had done with the cash that she has and goes out and gets in her nice car and goes home and sits in the air conditioning one minute, and the next customer that comes in is a little old lady whose kids are grown and abandoned her, and her husband of sixty years is dead and she buys a bag of beans with a little bit of change that is all she has to her name and walks home to a little house with nothing but a fan running on a ninety degree day and she has never even seen the inside of a beauty salon of any type and is too old to work any more and she doesn’t qualify for food stamps. Something is definitely wrong with that!!

      I also watch people who are obvious drug addicts and alcoholics whip out their food stamp cards and make purchases every day. They have damaged themselves to a point that they are not capable of working any more and so the taxpayers have to support them.

      All I can tell you is that if you took a job as a cashier in a poor neighborhood and watched what I watch every day, you would be appalled! Again, most people don’t know this is going on. You have to be the cashier who rings them up to see what they are spending the money on because it is not monitored in anyway, or you would have to be the doctor that treats their diseases and submits his bill to Medicaid or whatever in order to get paid for his services.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

  7. About the footnote: THAT I do definitely agree with you there. Just a quick aside: the restaurants you mentioned are owned under one company called Yum! Foods. There’s probably a few others that have petitioned, but I can’t remember from the press.

    Pardon my “devil’s advocate” for a sec: The arguments in favor say that some recipients are homeless, and do not have a place where they can cook their food. That would be a contrast from current policies: food stamps can be used for prepared deli-type foods, but only when cold. They can NOT be used for grocery deli foods served hot. Now I know this one pretty well because I’ve bought such every so often. But… I do remember what friends in the grocery business have told me, and remembering my time in convenience store work. It’s actually cheaper to build the sandwiches yourself, etc. The profit margin is on the convenience and supposed time saved.

    Sorry, getting to my point. I know that the cold deli food is already pretty expensive, and I’m going to exhaust the food stamp budget too fast if I buy much of those. I know for a fact that if restaurant fast food was included– that will drain it even faster. I get the “homeless people don’t necessarily have an oven” argument but I *do* think that their needs could be better served than simply letting them buy Super Burritos Del Grande… i.e. a more cost-efficient solution.

    L. mentioned Monsanto… I love my garden and I don’t think I could ever be an agribusiness farmer (but we live on the edge of farm country now, so, yeah)… ugh, I’ve heard of the struggles they have with them, in all the ways she mentioned. amelie mentioned work/volunteer which I’m pretty sure includes gleaning. The asparagus farmers here are more or less asking gleaning groups to come out and pick what would normally go to waste, but it would be nice if there were more community gardens or small family farms that were growing directly for working/poor folks and NOT the numerous subsidiaries of Monsanto. (Now that I think of it… wouldn’t most home gardeners love some help? We might be eating lots of zucchini for a while, but, y’know…)

    May 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

  8. Couldn’t agree more. With me being on and off public asstistance myself, I can say there is no way to control for the pmost part, of purchses. Here receiptants have a charged debit card which allows purchases for almost anything: for some odd reason I could not use mine to purchase gasoline,but could, if I had wanted to, used it to by alcohil…. so I too don’t get it.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

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