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Food Stamps Welcomed At Restaurants in California
CalWatchdog.com ^ | 11/23/10 | Katy Grimes

Posted on 12/07/2010 7:48:12 PM PST by Wisconsinlady

Food Stamps Welcomed At Restaurants

NOV. 23, 2010

By KATY GRIMES

We’ve known for some time that there are abuses of electronic welfare benefit (EBT) cards in California. The EBTs are accepted nearly anywhere that sells food — grocery markets, convenience stores and even restaurants. Costco does not accept food stamps or EBT cards, but Trader Joe’s does. The cards also have a cash component; they come loaded with cash allowances in addition to the electronic benefits.

What most people don’t know is that the government doesn’t keep a record of what is purchased with the cards. In the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the Office of Systems Integration, the state agency that oversees the EBT welfare card system, one question asks, “Does the government know what I bought with my EBT card?” The answer may surprise many, especially after the recent exposure of the rampant fraud using the benefit cards:

“No,” states the FAQ. “The EBT system does not keep a record of what you buy.”

In theory, the EBT cards can only be used for “Any food for human consumption except hot food.” According to the EBT debit card agency, EBT cards and food stamps are accepted at many different food venues:

Farmers’ markets – 96 farmers’ markets in 16 counties currently accept food stamps in California.

Flea markets – California is the first state in the nation to allow the use of food stamps at flea markets. Few flea markets currently participate, though the program will likely expand to those with significant food sales.

Special Programs – Drug addict and alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation programs, group living arrangements, shelters for battered women and children, and public or private nonprofit homeless meal providers — if authorized by USDA — can purchase food on behalf of their residents; and in some cases these residential programs can redeem food stamps directly.

EBT cards can also now be used to buy seeds and plants to grow food for personal consumption.

However, pet food, alcohol and “any hot food meant for immediate consumption” (fast food), as well as non-food items such as soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, cigarettes, vitamins and medicines are not allowed for EBT purchase.

There are still some food stamps in use, but the majority of welfare recipients are issued EBT cards.

Concerned with the dignity of the “client,” In 1996, the federal government passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which mandated the replacement of coupon style food stamps with the electronic fund transfer program debit cards. In 1997, the California Electronic Benefits Transfer Act was passed as part of the CalWORKs welfare reform legislative package. But it wasn’t until 2005 that the EBT program was fully implemented in California.

California touts the EBT program as a success, and claims that fraud has been greatly reduced. “There is a certain ethos in government where we don’t dwell on our successes; there are so many mandates from politicians and citizens that by the time we catch up to standards on one program, it is time to jump to the next,” reads a report from the California Department of Social Services.

The restaurant meals program was launched to allow homeless, disabled and elderly households to purchase hot food. It is currently operating in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Tuolumne and Santa Clara Counties.

In what would seem a contradiction to established EBT policies, the EBT Restaurant Meals Program allows “eligible EBT cardholders receiving federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase hot prepared foods at participating restaurants or retail stores, using their EBT cards.”

California apparently didn’t like the name SNAP, so the state changed the program name to “CalFresh.”

Delores Gant with the Los Angeles County Public Social Services explained that the restaurant meals program is a food stamp program allowing clients to use the EBT card to purchase prepared meals from participating restaurants. This program is available to the card holder, or anyone in the food stamp household who is homeless, elderly or disabled. Authorized representatives can use the EBT card as well.

The restaurants participating in the program in the five California counties are encouraged by the state to “Increase your business earnings while serving your community.” The reason for the restaurant program, according to Gant, is that “Los Angeles County [like the other counties] has a large population of homeless, disabled and elderly food stamp households that are unable to prepare their own meals or store food.”

In order to participate, Gant said that restaurants need to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Los Angeles County and become certified by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

Approximately one-half of the restaurants in the program are chains or franchises, with the others being mom and pop establishments, said Gant. “We do not want just franchises so we choose mom and pop restaurants also,” she added.

The EBT restaurant program seems to be a success. There are 15 pages of participating restaurants in L.A. County. And even though fast food outlets are supposed to be disallowed in the food stamp program, numerous locations for Jack in the Box, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Popeye’s are included in the listing of participating EBT restaurants.

Lucinda Serynek, Communications Director with Sacramento County’s Human Services division, said that the Los Angeles County program has “good participation” and is one of the best. But “it is up to the county whether or not to participate in the restaurant program,” she said. With budget cuts, Serynek said that many counties have opted not to participate.

The EBT card has two types of benefits: electronic-only funds as well as cash. Gant said that clients can use either the EBT card at participating restaurants, or use the cash.

CalFresh spending reports can be found on this website, broken down by month. The site includes a five-page application for CalFresh benefits and a “pre-screening tool.”


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; US: California
KEYWORDS: california; ebt; foodstamps; welfare

1 posted on 12/07/2010 7:48:20 PM PST by Wisconsinlady
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To: Wisconsinlady

I’m sorry, but there is simply no waste in the California budget. The ONLY choice is to let felons out of jail.


2 posted on 12/07/2010 7:55:00 PM PST by BobL
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To: Wisconsinlady

The other day at a local market I saw a twenty-something girl bedecked in jewelry and talking on a cellphone buying soda and chips with her EBT card. I felt like saying, “hope you enjoy it, b1tch, I’m paying”... but she wouldn’t have heard me. She was too engrossed in her phone call.


3 posted on 12/07/2010 7:55:32 PM PST by samtheman
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To: Wisconsinlady

So would San Francisco be discriminating against food stamp recipients if doesn’t allow them to purchase Happy Meals with their EBT cards?


4 posted on 12/07/2010 7:56:52 PM PST by Huntress (Who the hell are you to tell me what's in my best interests?)
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To: Huntress

They’ll make an exception to that law...


5 posted on 12/07/2010 7:58:50 PM PST by BobL
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To: Wisconsinlady

Why not? It’s a defacto second currency for the “under privileged”....


6 posted on 12/07/2010 7:59:13 PM PST by Bean Counter (Stout Hearts...)
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To: Wisconsinlady

Nothing good comes from socialism.


7 posted on 12/07/2010 8:00:50 PM PST by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: Wisconsinlady

As much as I hate to say it I think me and mine need to start thinking about getting out of here.


8 posted on 12/07/2010 8:01:14 PM PST by abigailsmybaby ( I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did. Yogi Berra)
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To: Wisconsinlady

If a place in Texas is caught selling hot food for food stamps they would get it bad.


9 posted on 12/07/2010 8:01:39 PM PST by GeronL
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To: Wisconsinlady

Apparently the government is handing out cell phones to the poor. My wife works at a nursing home and says many residents have them provided by Medicare/caid (I don’t know which).


10 posted on 12/07/2010 8:02:29 PM PST by killermosquito (Buffalo (and eventually France) is what you get when liberalism runs its course.)
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To: Wisconsinlady

However the food stamp card is also a Debit card

anyone can use it to get cash off it

all they need is the PIN number...

So alcohol and drugs can be bought with it...

well the cash from it...

it doesnt have to be used to feed the “hungry children”

nice racket eh ???


11 posted on 12/07/2010 8:02:29 PM PST by Tennessee Nana
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To: Wisconsinlady
government doesn’t keep a record of what is purchased with the cards

Of course not. The point of foodstamps isn't feeding people. It's a simple cash bribe made to look something different, for voting Democrat.

12 posted on 12/07/2010 8:04:33 PM PST by libh8er
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To: samtheman

I had a similar experience, except that when the checker ran the customer’s EBT card, it had 17 cents on it. This was after the store staff had bagged about $100 worth of groceries for her. EBT customer just looked blank, said “oh,” and walked out of the store. Checker told me that there’s a phone number EBT recipients can call to check the balance on their cards, but that this nonetheless happens 3 or 4 times a day.

What bugged me the most about the incident was that the customer didn’t even act embarrassed, let alone apologize to the store employees for creating all that extra work for them.


13 posted on 12/07/2010 8:05:02 PM PST by Huntress (Who the hell are you to tell me what's in my best interests?)
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To: Wisconsinlady
The cards also have a cash component; they come loaded with cash allowances in addition to the electronic benefits.

Wasn't there something in the news about some who used the "cash component" at casinos?

14 posted on 12/07/2010 8:08:01 PM PST by azishot
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To: Wisconsinlady

I despise the waste and fraud within the food stamp program. That being said I have no problem with the elderly and certain disabled being able to buy hot food with this program.
My mother was not on food stamps but was sick with breast cancer that metastasized. She lived alone. I spent a lot of time taking her cheap, hot food because she was homebound and just got sick of eating the same old stuff and wanted something different.
For certain people hot food is a good idea but like anything else it will be abused by all.


15 posted on 12/07/2010 8:09:27 PM PST by sheana
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To: Wisconsinlady

How about the State IOUs? Are the State IOUs they are using to “pay” contractors accepted at restaurants? My wife’s company won’t get near Kali because Kali demands to pay in IOUs and get full credit for payment rendered.


16 posted on 12/07/2010 8:15:38 PM PST by CodeToad (Islam needs to be banned in the US and treated as a criminal enterprise.)
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Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: Wisconsinlady

So we have two currencies in the USA. Oh, and no inflation of food or energy prices either.


18 posted on 12/07/2010 8:19:24 PM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: samtheman

To 3 - I am always amazed at the total lack of shame in these people.


19 posted on 12/07/2010 8:22:17 PM PST by jla
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To: Huntress

Pologize to White people who have a job? You have got to be kidding. I just gave them some more work to do, that’s all.
Hummph, expect me to pologize.


20 posted on 12/07/2010 8:23:09 PM PST by B4Ranch (Do NOT remain seated until this ride comes to a full and complete stop! We're going the wrong way!)
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To: dalereed

*ping* (You’ll LOVE this article!)


21 posted on 12/07/2010 8:24:52 PM PST by jla
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To: B4Ranch

For the record, EBT customer and the store employees involved were all white, so it wasn’t a race thing.


22 posted on 12/07/2010 8:25:42 PM PST by Huntress (Who the hell are you to tell me what's in my best interests?)
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To: Huntress

That’s because they think it just refills all the time. They believe it is owed them is why there is no embarrassment. Most likely she went back to the same store the next day with a similar result.

They will just keep doing it till it actually refills and she gets groceries. I remember back when my wife and I were starting out and going to the grocery store with $35 to spend because we had just paid rent and electricity bill and that was all we had to spend. And then watch someone get $200 of groceries and just whip out food stamps while we worked and had to scrimp.


23 posted on 12/07/2010 8:41:36 PM PST by packrat35 (I got your tag line..)
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To: killermosquito

They give out cell phones and free minutes on them too. In Massachusetts they give cars, gasoline, insurance and - are you ready - AAA membership!

Supposedly the recipients can’t look for a job without phones and cars.

Heck, why work? Life is better on the dole.


24 posted on 12/07/2010 8:47:05 PM PST by ladyjane
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To: packrat35
I've been behind younger, able bodied people in the supermarket who use these to buy food I can't afford.

Then, to top it off, they drive away in cars I can't afford either. Something is wrong with this picture!

25 posted on 12/07/2010 8:49:15 PM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: ladyjane
Heck, why work? Life is better on the dole.

A lot of people figured out, a long time ago, that it is actually more lucrative as well as easier to live off others.

Many years ago I worked with a hard-working lady who got just livid when the subject of welfare came up. Almost every day when she left for work her neighbor would be sitting back on her porch, relaxing, and laughing at "Mrs. Jones" for going to work. "You're a fool for going out there and working like that," she was told. "Just sit a home and draw a check!"

It just outraged her. She was brought up to work for what she had, and that was the way she lived her life. It outraged her that others did not do the same, but chose instead to live off her labors!

26 posted on 12/07/2010 9:04:42 PM PST by susannah59
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To: Wisconsinlady

Now, if I tried to run a bill thru Congress called the Taco Bell Subsidy Act, no one would vote for it. But if I call it the ‘Help The Poor People Eat ‘ bill, I guess that will work.


27 posted on 12/07/2010 9:16:46 PM PST by TeachableMoment
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To: Wisconsinlady

72 degrees today in Southern California...

Unlimited visibility, mild Pacific breeze, sunny, clear, not a cloud in the sky, snow on the mountains, and orange trees are full!

Actually got in some golf today....Life is good.

Just perfect fall weather...


28 posted on 12/07/2010 9:19:59 PM PST by dragnet2 (Diversion and evasion are tools of deceit.)
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To: azishot

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2010/10/schwarzeneggers-office-cancels-access-to-welfare-benefits-on-cruise-ships-and-at-casinos.html


29 posted on 12/07/2010 9:34:24 PM PST by Wisconsinlady (DEFUND NPR, PBS, THE TSA AND THE U.N.)
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To: samtheman
..."hope you enjoy it, b1tch, I'm paying"...

Oh, if we could only say what we'd like to say---and get away with it! You're way nicer than I am. Something along the lines of "Hope you choke on it" comes to my mind.

30 posted on 12/07/2010 9:54:41 PM PST by IIntense
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To: Wisconsinlady

Why is there a cash component? I’m in CA for business and saw a sign in a cash advance place’s window saying “EBT users get your cash here.” I couldn’t figure how that would work until I saw they have cash on the card too. That is NUTS ~ they could cash that out and buy drugs!


31 posted on 12/07/2010 10:28:18 PM PST by leapfrog0202 ("the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery" Sarah Palin)
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To: leapfrog0202

Good question. With a restricted card, you can only buy food and that’s it. The cash program is too easily abused.


32 posted on 12/07/2010 10:41:02 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Wisconsinlady

Thanks for the link, Wisconsinlady. I was sure I’d read it but didn’t remember it only happening a few months ago. Pretty soon they’ll be able to use their cards at garage sales. Or do they already?


33 posted on 12/08/2010 6:35:29 AM PST by azishot (MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!)
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To: Wisconsinlady

I’d like to offer a possible solution to the exsanguination process known as welfare.I’d like to get some feedback on it,just wanna see how you all feel about it.
Were it up to me,this is how I would enact welfare reform:
The program in its present form would be completely scrapped and replaced with the following-
1) The program would be no more than 18 months long. No more welfare queens (and kings!!) living on the public dole for years and years at a time.This alone would save millions.
2) Every single person coming into the program (intake),
regardless of situation,would have to do two things.First,they must-MUST-prove they are US citizens through two pieces of verifiable ID.No ID,too bad. Go to a shlter or go back home,whatever.Secondly,each applicant,once verified as legal,and after meeting the criteria of needing assistance,would have to sign a contract,explained fully by the intake worker and provided to the applicant in a language they are familiar with.The contract would lay out the following:
a) This contract is for a one-time application of assistance;it is not open to extension of benefits,or amendment of any part thereof. The applicant would be made to understand that once you sign it,you are bound by the language in the contract and must comply with it in full,no exceptions.Any breach of it constitutes default and you are immediately released from the program and will not receive any more assistance,in any way,shape or form.
b)The applicant must submit to random drug testing for illegal drugs...one failure means you must be re-tested (labs occasionally make mistakes!). Fail the second test,you’ve breached it,you’re done,no more assistance.
Same thing if you become pregnant and/or marry at any time during the contract period...if that happens,you’ve breached it,that’s it,you’re done.
c)You are required to attend vocational schooling. If you are illiterate,you will be placed in a literacy class and upon completion,you will be sent to a vo-tech center to learn a trade.public transportation voucher and child care for children under the age of 12 will be provided for you during the hours and days of the week you attend school.Documentation from the school will be forwarded to the welfare agency so they know your school schedule.You must complete the course and pass with a score of 85 or better.If you miss more than 3 classes you will be dropped from assistance and no more will be given.Once you complete the course and graduate,you will be given job placement assistance, a public transporation voucher and child care good for 3 months after completion.Once you have made the transition to being employed,you will be terminated from the program and no further assistance will be given-ever.Your records will remain with the agency and if you attempt to get assistance again you will be denied.One shot.One helping hand up.No more handouts.


34 posted on 12/30/2010 8:36:58 AM PST by gimme1ibertee ("Criticism......brings attention to an unhealthy state of things"-Winston Churchill)
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