Food Stamps Are Not for Fancy Starbucks Drinks

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Normally Fox News and their repellent "information" aren't relevant to anything, but their investigation in Oregon's food stamp policy did reveal something disturbing. Apparently, those who use Oregon's equivalent of food stamps -- The Oregon Trail Card -- can pay for Starbucks at a grocery store in Oregon. And while no one would say that those who get it shouldn't have assistance, this little "glitch" is disturbing.

The fact is, Starbucks is expensive, and if a customer can get around the food stamp rules to do this in a grocery store Starbucks, then there are some loopholes that need to be changed and fast.

Though people can't just go to a freestanding Starbucks, order up a Frappuccino, and go, the idea that they even can abuse the system in such a way actually hurts those people who don't the most.

The fact is, in this country, there will always be people looking for a free handout. That's true anywhere, really. But stories like these make the people who really need the assistance and who only use it to get back on their feet look bad. How is that right?

Food stamps are for bread, milk, produce, and other healthy items. No one should be wasting them on junk food and soda and Cheetos. If that sounds judgy, well then OK. As a taxpayer, I reserve the right to be a bit judgy. If I can't afford those "extras" and I don't get assistance, then why should someone who does?

This isn't to say that people don't need assistance. They do and how, especially given the current economy. It's just that "assistance" shouldn't cover excesses and luxuries; otherwise, people will get angry and feel exploited. This is exactly what is happening here.

It isn't easy to admit to needing help and certainly the grand majority of people who apply for assistance are likely deserving and deeply in need. But this loophole needs to be changed and fast before someone gets the idea to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

Aspects of this system are clearly broken and they need to be fixed. That doesn't mean that the system itself is broken.

Do you think people should be able to buy Starbucks with food stamps?


Image via Cherrysweetdeal/Flickr

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MrsKi... MrsKittyKat

I don't think food stamps should be allowed for any type of beverage.  I've seen so many people load up a cart full of soda and pay with food stamps.  What a waste.  Water is free and the most healthy thing to drink.

Ember... Emberbaby

No I don't think food stamps should pay for Starbucks!

@ mrskittykat where do you live that you get water for free!

Total... Totallysmitten

Absolutely not!!! That goes for soda, coffee, Kool-aid, candy, etc. Milk and juice, yes. People need these things.

navyw... navywife0204

I don't think they should be able to buy Starbucks with foodstamps, but on the other side of that, the Starbucks shouldn't be accepting the cards either.

MrsKi... MrsKittyKat

Water is free in Chicago, and most places if you rent.

Laura-Kathleen Redman

Before everyone gets into a "who should qualify for what" argument, makes racist remarks, and embarrasses themselves in general, I just want to say that this is a very easy 'glitch' to have and a very easy thing to correct. 


...I workin pricing for a large grocery store.  To 'flip' something to where it would qualify as a food stamp item was LITERALLY as easy as pressing one letter.   Whoever set up the Point Of Sale computer probably added a new beverage based on the template of another item which could be purchased with food stamps.  It's a little complex to describe to people who haven't used it, but it is easy for those who are familiar with a CC Controller to imagine.  That same POS computer controls what qualifies as a 'sale item,' a 'food stamp item,' or even something you have to be carded for.  Yes, I could press a button and people ringing up bananas could be asked to present identification.  Obviously, it's wrong.  But it's a simple error to make and to fix.

It isn't some big conspiracy to let people buy coffee on state aid -- it was a computer error that most people wouldn't catch because, really, how many people would think to try to use their EBT card at an in-store Starbucks, anyway? 

lills... lillsmom09

Totally agree. I have seen so much waste, it makes me sick. Working people can't get help and are the ones that need it.

Laura-Kathleen Redman

[That same CC can be accessed at store level and at corporate level.  So it's entirely possible that the error was generated at the corporate level and accidentally passed down to the affected stores during a routine weekly update of prices.]

nonmember avatar anon

I have to agree with the author. Foodstamps should go to necessities only. If you have running water, then its "free". However I've had some awful water and in those cases bottled is a necessity.

nonmember avatar K

People don't actually care what people on food stamps eat. It just makes you mad that they aren't reduced to gruel every night. Food is food. Yeah sure, restaurants of any kind shouldn't be taking food stamps, but people complain if people buy even healthy food if it just happens to be a little more expensive. It's called jealousy and as a tax payer myself, I proudly will let someone have a freakin' soda if it makes them happy. Who cares. They're basically given an allowance, and if they buy one thing, then they just spent some of it. It something they buy is expensive, oh well it's not costing you any extra, because they're not getting extra allowance for other things. There are so many far worse and more pointless things our taxes are going to than feeding people. Get over it.

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