“The answer was largely a mystery until now. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the $74 billion food stamp program called SNAP, has published a detailed report that provides a glimpse into the shopping cart of the typical household that receives food stamps. The findings show that the No. 1 purchases by SNAP households are soft drinks, which accounted for about 10 percent of the dollars they spent on food.”
“SNAP households spent 9.3 percent of their grocery budgets on soft drinks alone. That was slightly higher than the 7.1 percent figure for households that do not receive food stamps.”
Other investigatory articles on the subject have also discovered that the SNAP food stamps/EBT cards are frequently used to buy soft-drinks in bulk in many areas and said soft drinks can then be readily sold for cash. The cash of course is used to buy drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.
What has your observation in this matter been James?
As you can see, Jeremy, while buying more soft drinks, the food stamper does not buy at entirely different levels. The focus on soft drinks in this report is political, partially the liberal desire to control human diet and partially pushback from the fact that soft drink companies lobby on this policy and also extort retailers and bypass wholesalers. Even though your food stamper only guzzles two more sodas than the cash customer, his choice of shopping location is more important to the retailer. He usually pays a cab or hack and must decide where he is spending all of his money for the month. In this environment, with sodas high on his priority list—lest mamma hit him with her high heels—the retailer's soft drink price is key, and since retailers make zero profit selling Coke and Pepsi products [I'm serious, Jeremy, nothing] if the retailer does not play ball and give additional display space to Coke or Pepsi, every year, forever, he will have to sell his soft drinks at a huge loss to stay competitive. This soft drink question is all about brand loyalty. And as we know, brand loyalty in any field is a prominent feature of the poorly educated segments of our society.
I have been audited by inspectors from the Department of Agriculture and although they are supposedly in charge of the food stamp program they really did nothing about regulating it, focusing all their effort on the WIC program [which has whole food stipulations and disqualifies value added, branded products] and weights and measures. It is interesting that they are starting to look at something that has amounted to corporate welfare since its inception, with most food stamp dollars spent on advertising, packaging, and imported sugar.
The big food stamp fraud is selling your EBT card for 50 cents on the dollar, often to a person who owns a business and buys drinks for his soda machines, deli trays for his office party, etc. All of this money goes to dope and booze, with the child usually fed by a grandparent.
In terms of using food stamp purchases to generate re-sales #1 is buying cases of battled water for $3 and selling the 24 bottles at a street corner for $1 a piece. This is how many boys survive. The only thing they get from mamma is a swipe of the EBT card for the case of water and they have to turn that into 20-30 dollars in order to buy their chicken nuggets and french fries for the week. Often, the only food the boys can eat from her pantry is chicken hootdogs, soda and ramen noodles. The rest of the food is reserved for mamma, her daughters and her manz.
The foods I can recall off the top of my head that are bought at two or more times the quantity by food stampers compared to cash customers are:
-Pre-packaged snack cakes
-Branded, pre-sweetened cereal [see Omar Little in The Wire]
-Sweetened juice drinks
-Sugar [you only sell 20-pound bags of sugar to food-stampers and eatery owners
-Seafood [times 4 by weight]
-Chicken [times 10 by weight]
-Pork [times 5 by weight]
-Beef [times 2 by weight]
-Decorated cakes, retailing between $40-150, bought every month