USDA study reveals what food stamps are really spent on
Michael Bloomberg and Michelle Obama have been lecturing us (or at least those among us who use food stamps, aka SNAP) to no avail when it comes to sugary soft drinks. Anahad O’Conner of the New York Times reports:
What do households on food stamps buy at the grocery store?
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.
The food stamp crowd likes soft drinks a lot more than those who pay for their own 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.
That amounts to 31% more soft drink consumption by those who don’t have to pay for it. Let me hazard a guess that people who qualify for food stamps also disproportionately do not pay fully for their medical care though either Medicaid or Obamacare subsidies.
This displeases the nanny staters:
"In this sense, SNAP is a multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidy of the soda industry," said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. "It's pretty shocking."
The food stamp program has been a fraud magnet from the start. Consider the $16 million fraud ring just busted in Baltimore:
More than a dozen retail store operators in and around Baltimore have been charged in connection to a huge food stamp and wire fraud scheme.
The indictments allege the retailers received more than $16 million in federal payments for transactions in which they did not provide any food, a fraud scheme commonly known as “food stamp trafficking.” (snip)
The indictments allege that the defendants illegally exchanged EBT benefits for cash, instead. To avoid detection, they debited the funds from the card in multiple transactions over a period of hours or days, or called a different store where the transaction was processed manually, the Department of Justice says.
As a result these transactions, they allegedly obtained more than $16,482,270 in EBT deposits for transactions in which food sales never occurred or were substantially inflated and split the proceeds with food stamp recipients.
There isn’t a lot of diversity among the people charged in this Baltimore ring:
Walayat Khan, 36, of Reisterstown
Barbara Ann Duke, 50, of Owings Mills
Shaheen Tasewar Hussain, 60, of Ellicott City
Kelym Novas Perez, 34, of Baltimore
Jose Remedio Gonzalez Reyes, 50, of Baltimore
Mulazam Hussain, 54, of Windsor Mill
Mahmood Hussain Shah, 57, of Catonsville
Muhammad Rafiq, 58, of Reisterstown
Mohammad Shafiq, 50, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland; and his daughter,
Alia Shaheen, 24, of Baltimore
Mohammad Irfan, 59, of Nottingham
Muhammad Sarmad, 40, of Nottingham
Rizwan Pervez, 38, of Essex
Kassem Mohammad Hafeed, a/k/a Kassam Mohammad Hafeed, 51, of Baltimore
There are no doubt people who need help putting food on the table. I wish the nannies would focus on those who eat at taxpayer expense in imposing limits like Bloomberg’s soda cup and salt limits. There is evidence that they need the advice more than people who pay their own way. And financing a system as easy to cheat on as this simply invites predators.
Hat tip: Peter von Buol and Clarice Feldman