How food stamps can end up feeding people abroad
Some recipients of the $75 billion federal program use the benefit to buy favorite treats for relatives in the Caribbean.
Mr. and Mrs. Alderson Muncy of West Virginia made history in 1961 when they became the country's first food stamp recipients by using $95 in benefits to buy groceries for their 15-person family.
More than 50 years later, the food stamp program has changed in ways that the Muncy family probably wouldn't recognize. For one, the program now provides debit cards. Second, it has swelled into a $75 billion federal program. It's so big now that critics say it's simply too huge and is prone to abuse.
Now comes a newspaper story that won't do much to convince critics the program helps only people in need. Some families in New York City are reportedly using their benefits to buy food that they then ship to relatives in less affluent countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti, the New York Post reports.
Transplants from the Caribbean and other island countries often send home barrels packed with food, a practice so common that sites are devoted to helping ship barrels, which may end up stocked with grocery favorites such as Kraft (KRFT) BBQ sauce and Heinz ketchup.
But using food stamps to purchase food that's shipped abroad isn't kosher, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture told the Post. Only households like the Muncy home -- where people buy and prepare food together -- are supposed to use the benefit. States that catch recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) shipping food abroad should intervene, the spokeswoman said.
"The purpose of this program is to help Americans who don't have enough to eat. This is not intended as a form of foreign aid," Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, told the publication.
The revelation will only add to the debate over the SNAP program, as it's part of the almost $1 trillion farm bill that's embroiled in a political fight. While the bill provides government subsidies to farmers, it also includes funding for the food stamp program. Earlier this month, House Republicans passed a version of the bill without SNAP funding. It marks the first time in 40 years that food stamps haven't been in the farm bill, The New York Times points out.
While food stamps could still end up in the final bill, the debate will likely continue for years.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Food Stamps are one of the most abused and wasteful social program this country has ever developed. A family of four receives more money monthly then my family of five spends a month on food. The amount paid out each month should be cut by at least one third. Purchases by food stamps should be (if not already) restricted to the following: Fresh/frozen non prepared meats & fish, fresh/frozen non prepared vegetables, deli meats/cheeses, canned goods, breads, non sweetened dairy, and non sweetened juices. The following should always be banned, and processes need to be in place where not already, to restrict: Soda, bottled water, power and energy drinks, sweetened juices, coffee, tea, ice cream, candy, energy bars, any pre-prepared meals or sandwiches, snacks/junk food, or any food that is mail ordered or shipped anywhere. If these rules would be followed, and recipients would learn how to shop and properly eat, no one would be hungry and we the taxpayers would save billions.
Otherwise -eliminate this system altogether...how embarrassing this is!
IF only fresh food as available for purchase, this would not be an issue, plus the costs would be much lower.
The food stamp program is intended to feed the needy in America. People who misuse or abuse the system should be made to repay total the amount of food that they had received for the full period they had been granted this supplement along with the banning of future benefits to that family member. The US shouldn't allow this to occur and should enact laws that penalize if not imprison these people. If a child is not receiving the benefit paid on behave of the parents misuse the parent should also be charged with child neglect because the food is not being purchased for the child use as it was intended.
America provides tons of charity for poorer nations which also fails to be used as intended these programs should be ended also if they are found in violation of what they were intend for. Why do people think we are the worlds welfare provider to begin with. When America is in need or trouble No one helps us with aid it comes from within. During the hurricane disasters in our recent past did we get help from other nations? I think not and if they offered the money never came. So why are we expected to bail out these other nations? Liberalism is why we are already paying millions out to nations that would like to see us destroyed but we still give them money anyways. America should not be the nation to bail out the world. Nato should make all its members pay a portion but they too have become a charity that seeks US money.
And this is news to any of you ? The Cubans, Haitians, and all other Caribbean ethnicities have been doing this for a long time. It's not just about cash, but goods & services too. The smuggling rackets are much, much more varied than just people & drugs.
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