of quality and class-based shame poor people should aim for in their meal planning?” Jon Stewart asked Tuesday night, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
His rant mocked the indignation of entertainers on Fox News, hysterically claiming that food stamps can be used for everything from Las Vegas trips to dog food. They deserve to be mocked. Accurate information is shockingly easy to come by, as to what actually are eligible purchases.
The Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA lists eligible and ineligible items:
Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:
Foods for the household to eat, such as:
breads and cereals;
fruits and vegetables;
meats, fish and poultry; and
Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.
In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.
Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:
Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
Any nonfood items, such as:
soaps, paper products
Vitamins and medicines
Food that will be eaten in the store
SO! Fox News is RIGHT! People can buy seafood with food stamps!
That’s right. But benefits aren’t for a certain number of meals at any cost. It’s a scrip, worth an amount of money. And food stamp benefits are small enough, most households won’t choose pricy foods often. With an average monthly per person benefit of $133, beneficiaries have less than $4.45 per day to feed themselves. Budget constraints necessarily lead to choosing cheaper substitutes most of the time.
Yes, it’s all about trade-offs. If a family receiving food assistance chooses a steak and a birthday cake in their small monthly budget, then Happy Birthday and Hallelujah to them! Let’s not begrudge the small celebration. After all, the rest of the month may be more meager for the choice.
Linking up with Angie at The Novice Gardener for Fiesta Friday.