Kate Briquelet and Isabel Vincent, two reporters for the New York Post, recently investigated what some food stamp recipients do with the food they purchase on the taxpayer’s dime. What they found was astounding. They were packing the food in barrels and shipping it back to their home countries. Evidently, the practice is fairly common as most Caribbean stores stock wooden or cardboard barrels right in their stores.
This brings up a few interesting points. First, the practice is against the EBT rules. Secondly, if they can afford to use their food stamps to ship food overseas, are they really eligible in the first place? And lastly, since it is a fairly open secret, why hasn’t Nanny Bloomberg done something about it? There is no way of knowing just how many food stamp dollars are finding their way out of the country and New York City is probably not the only place this is happening.
I also wonder if the shipping of food is legal even if you use your own money. When you go through customs, the first thing you are asked is if you are carrying any fruits or vegetables or other foodstuff. Regardless, it does prove there is a lax system in place to allow such behavior. And apparently, no one is worried about getting caught.
A senior fellow at the Cato Institute, Michael Tanner, points out:
I don’t want food-stamp police to see what people do with their rice and beans, but it’s wrong. 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.”
Recipients explain their actions, this way:
“This is all worth more than $2,000. I’ve been shopping since last December. You can help somebody else, someone who doesn’t live in this country.”
A man helping her pack the barrel said: “We’re poor here, and they’re poor. But what we can get here is like luxury to them.”
In Massachusetts, they have also found a problem in their food stamp and cash handout programs, hoarding. Authorities have found food stamp cards with balances of over $12,000 dollars. Eighteen hundred have balances above $1500 dollars, including one account which is over $4600 dollars. A Department of Transitional Aid report shows the following disturbing revelations:
• Of the state’s 550,000 food stamp, or SNAP, recipients, 1,794 have balances of more than $1,500, and another 45 are carrying more than $5,000.•
One balance in March hit $12,088, the highest from any of the seven months of data the Herald reviewed.
• For those receiving state taxpayer-funded cash assistance, one EBT cardholder had a $4,622 balance, and another $4,320.
Again, we must ask ourselves, how anyone who is truly eligible for these benefits could actually hoard this much food credit or cash. The food stamps are provided by the federal government and the cash is administered by the state, using funds provided by the federal government.
Steven Ahle is the Editor of Red Statements and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.