You cannot buy electronics with food stamps. You cannot buy cigarettes with food stamps. You cannot buy pet food with food stamps. You cannot withdraw money with an EBT card (food stamps).
Do you know what else you can’t buy with food stamps? Shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, tinfoil, plastic sandwich bags, toothpaste, cleaning products, tampons, pads, over the counter medications (such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.), and anything else you can think of that you cannot physically ingest for nutritional purposes.
Do you know what you can buy with food stamps? Food.
Do you know what it’s like to scrounge for change to buy non-edible necessities, use a credit card and EBT card (food stamps) during the same transaction, and then have the person in line behind you judge you for buying the ingredients to make a birthday cake?
People who disseminate false information about food stamps have never had to use food stamps.
Also want to point out that you cannot buy hot, prepared food with an ebt card. That means you can’t use it in cafeterias, fast food places, or even to get the precooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. So if you don’t have he time, energy or physical ability to cook for yourself, you’re basically stuck eating whatever crap you can heat up in the microwave.
People can sell the credit on their EBT card or sell the things they buy with their EBT card for cash. Often this is done to pay for various non-food expenses like utility bills, medical bills, rent, prescription medication, field trip fees for their kids, birthday presents, etc). Yes, also junk food, cell phones or even drugs. This isn’t a new thing. It’s been going on since the inception of the Food Stamp program.
It’s important to remember that the people doing this aren’t “getting rich off assistance.” It is barely possible for someone in the system to eek out a living, much less get wealthy. The average family in the EBT programs only gets $133.42 a month. That sounds like a lot until you try to feed a family with it. If someone does exchange this credit for cash even at the high end of these kinds of exchanges, $0.25 to $0.50 on the dollar, they’re only going to get $40-$60 dollars. No one is going to fucking Disney land on that kind of money.
There are entire networks and systems set up to profit off of people on the EBT system. Buying their credit for pennies and reap a huge profit margin for selling that credit or the food it buys for profit. They recently busted a ring of convenience stores being used to sell items bought using EBT cards.
Welfare reform is and should be about shutting down criminals who take advantage of the people on assistance. Be they brokers who buy EBT cards, or people who steal them.
But this is a much bigger problem than just food stamps. It’s about corrupt systems that are created to prey on the poor, that keep them poor. Like payday loan scams and check cashing services, that are legal, charging outrageous prices for services that banks will not offer poor people. These systems are built to prey on people who cannot really afford them, and rigged to keep them coming back every month. Trapping them in an endless cycle of debt few can break free from.
Before you look down your nose at the “ignorant poor” remember that these snake oil salesmen and their scams are no different than the shady equity loans offered by big name reputable banks that countless middle class Americans fell prey to, and ended up losing their homes.
Open your eyes, the systems that keep the poor in poverty, are also pushing the middle class into working class poor.