My rant for the day.
With ads, coupons, calculator, and a few stray curse words flying about, I pulled the grocery cart and pushed my daughter wheelchair through Wal-Mart. Grocery shopping has become one of the most daunting tasks imaginable for me. Gone are the days of flying isle to isle picking up whatever suits my whim of the week. What used to take a mere thirty minutes now takes hours of adding up tallies, compiling each coupon, and flipping through fliers to ad match the best possible price on each and every item.
Last week, I was going through this routine and was absolutely exhausted as I reached the checkout line. The only upside of the day was seeing one lone man in front of me with just a ring of salt, three bottles of margarita mix, and a bag of limes. Usually, there is three or four cashiers….each with lines full of full buggies. I was also fantasizing about having one of those margaritas (after my 8 more weeks of pregnancy is over of course.)
As I am unloading my buggy, I notice the margarita man in front of me has one of those yellow food stamp cards out. “Surely not,” I thought. “That will be $32.00,” said the cashier. He sweeps his little yellow food stamp card without batting an eye. I have completely stopped unloading my buggy to see if my tax dollars are actually about to pay for this joker to go have a margarita party. “Thank you sir, and come again” echoed in my ear as my head was just about to combust. Yes, mine, yours, and probably my unborn child’s tax dollars just paid for this guy to buy margarita mix. Meanwhile, my husband working two jobs and my daughters miniscule Social Security check is being stretched with a calculator, ad’s and coupons just for us to eat PB&J and red beans.
I get home and automatically go to the computer. I get on the internet to see how in the hell this guy bought margarita mix with a food stamp card that is supposed to be for people unable to actually feed themselves.
The first thing I came across was that 35.8 million people received food stamps in July of 2009, an all time record. That equates to 1 in every 9 person in the United States. This number has continued to rise since July and is expected to continue to rise with unemployment numbers remaining above average. The average amount each person received monthly this year was between $101.00 and $133.00. In Texas alone, there are 3 million persons enrolled in the food stamp program, and another 38,000 on the waiting list. On the other hand, there were over 200 cases of convicted food stamp fraud cases totaling almost 900,000 this year alone in just one county in Texas. Texas is just an example; every state I looked at had astonishing stats on people getting food stamps vs. cases of fraud. It is shameful that many people truly in need of assistance to buy food are sitting on waiting lists while others abuse the system.
Once I got an idea of just how many people received food stamps and the incidence of fraud, I moved on to what the food stamp program (SNAP) considers food. Amazingly, alcohol mixes are eligible, but a scoop of “on premise consumption” ice cream isn’t eligible. Go figure~ Investigation over! Yet, another case of the system enabling those to abuse the system, while many truly in need are told to wait or that they make two bucks too much to be eligible.
So, while buying margarita mix using food stamp money is not illegal, I think it is example *A* of a flawed system. There are people that have lost their jobs, have disabilities, or just do not have the income needed to keep up with the price of food….that actually need help to buy FOOD while someone else is misusing the premise of food stamps as an aid for the non-nutritional event of drinking alcohol. The man in front of me spent between 1/3 and ¼ of the average food stamp allotment on items that would not feed him/his family…not to mention whatever he spent of his paycheck on the alcohol to go with his mix!