Food Stamp Recipients Sending Food Abroad

in JMM news / by / on July 22, 2013 at 1:57 pm

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Not only can the Agriculture Department boast that food stamps feed more than  47 million people in America annually, it turns out taxpayers are also  inadvertently feeding ineligible people abroad.

The New York Post reports that New Yorkers are using their Electronic Benefit  Transfer (EBT) cards — a vehicle for government benefits like food stamps and  cash assistance — to purchase groceries, package them in large barrels and ship  them to relatives overseas in places like Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican  Republic.

The Post reports that in the more Caribbean-heavy areas of the city,  supermarkets offer hundreds of 45- to 55-gallon barrels for shipping.

Patrons pay roughly $40 in cash for the barrels and fill them with $500 to  $2,000 worth of items like rice, beans, pasta, canned milk, and sausages, the  Post reported, noting that the goods are less expensive and better quality than  those available abroad.

For about $70 a shipping company will pick up the barrels and ship them to  the Caribbean in about three weeks, according to the Post.

As an Agriculture Department spokeswoman told the paper, shipping food  purchased with federally funded nutrition benefits is not an acceptable use of  the benefits, which are meant to feed eligible people in America, and that state  governments should be doing more to stop the practice.

The practice is relatively commonplace, according to the Post. But not  everybody shipping food abroad is using welfare dollars to do so.

“Everybody does it,” a supermarket worker in Prospect Lefferts Gardens,  Brooklyn told the Post. “They pay for it any way they can. A lot of people pay  with EBT.”

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