Food Stamp Recipients Shipping Groceries Overseas
Date: July 29, 2013 09:30AM
Our tax dollars, hard at work...
Some food stamp recipients are using their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to buy groceries in the United States and sending them to relatives in several Caribbean countries.
According to the New York Post, New Yorkers in largely Caribbean neighborhoods are using their EBT cards, which provide government benefits like food stamps and cash assistance, to buy the items and sending them overseas in large barrels.
Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, called the practice another example of welfare abuse.
"The purpose of this program is to help Americans who don't have enough to eat," he told the Post. "This is not intended as a form of foreign aid."
In those largely Caribbean New York neighborhoods, supermarkets offer hundreds of 45- to 55-gallon barrels for shipping.
Customers buy the barrels for about $40 each, and use their food stamps to fill them over time with up to $2,000 worth of rice, beans, pasta, canned milk, and sausages, the Post reports.
They then call a shipping company to pick up the barrels and send them mostly to Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republican for about $70.
"Everybody does it," a worker at a Brooklyn supermarket told the paper. "A lot of people pay with EBT."
New York is likely not the only place EBT cards are being abused. The Boston Herald reported that similar barrels are available in Boston, as are the shipping companies.
"If it's happening in one state, it's happening in many other states," Massachusetts Republican state Sen. Shaunna O'Connell told The Boston Herald. "It's just one of countless scams happening through the food stamp program."
In fiscal 2012, the government spent $74.6 billion on food assistance, and last September, 47.7 million Americans were receiving benefits.