Food Stamps

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has doled out millions of dollars annually to help people eat – one of the most basic societal needs. But what seems initially like a helping hand to those who need it has its drawbacks.

 

They Can Only be Used to Purchase Food

Although food stamps, as they suggest, are used to purchase food, they don’t apply to all types of food. For instance, hot food or grocery store food that’s meant to be consumed in the store can’t be purchased with an EBT card. Although this may not seem like a big disadvantage, as many people will just cook their groceries at home, it does present an obstacle for people who don’t have access to a stove or refrigerator, such as the homeless.

 

They Can’t be Used Everywhere

The cross-country prevalence of the SNAP program can make it look like the EBT card is as easy to use as a Visa, with all people having to do is whip it out in the checkout line and go home with groceries. However, that’s not always the case as each vendor has to agree to partner up with SNAP. While large supermarkets like Walmart, Kroger and Safeway accept EBT cards, smaller grocery stores might not. Again, for most people, this isn’t a problem and only becomes so for people who live in rural areas where the only vendor might be a boutique grocery store. corner store or farmer’s market.

With cars being so commonplace today, a typical response to this problem would to advise people to just drive to a national retailer and stock up on groceries there. However, that incurs many costs of its own: the cost of gas, which requires people to actually have their own car; the cost of renting a car or hiring a taxi; and the cost of time.

They Can be a Disincentive to Working

When receiving government benefits, it can be very easy to slide into the mentality of not wanting to work because benefits are handed out “for free.” This can lead to a food stamps recipient staying mired in their current situation, not wanting to every break out. Even more, it leads to a vortex in which people are content to not try and instead accept their situation as permanent. But worst yet is that it creates the illusion that being on food stamps for life is the preferred way to live, and opens it up to fraudsters taking advantage of a system designed to help, not hinder.

They Can Result in a Very Small Amount

The stories of food stamps users receiving hundreds of dollars each month tend to be glamorized and not reflective of the general truth. While a single mother may receive close to the maximum amount in food stamps, an unemployed college grad may be in a different situation entirely. Sometimes, the differential can result in receiving an amount so small, such as $10/month, that it may not even be worth it go on food stamps at all.

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