The state of Kansas has recently proposed amendments that would limit the establishments where benefits known as “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families,” (TANF) can be accepted. This program can also be referred to as EBT, or SNAP, but is commonly known as food stamps.
It would exclude liquor stores, fortune tellers, cruise ships and strip clubs. It would also limit the length of time that benefits are offered to needy families.
In the neighboring state of Missouri, amendment change to benefits would disallow the purchase of cookies, candy, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steaks with TANF, or food stamps.
The original purpose of food stamps was to ensure that families in need would have an opportunity to have nutritious food.
While excluding some food items could be considered extreme, much in these bills have a good deal of merit.
How exactly did liquor stores, fortune tellers, cruise ships and strip clubs come to be allowed to accept the EBT cards? Is there not a system that screens applications to determine if the business is a viable retail food store?
It appears that although an advantage is being taken by some TANF recipients, the fault for being allowed to accept such payment in a commercial establishment that is obviously not a food vendor has to originate at a higher level.
It can begin at a lower level as well. In 2013, a father and son were involved in a food stamp fraud concerning their convenience store.
The duo would purchase the buying power of a cash strapped EBT recipient at around 20 to 30 cents on the dollar. Upon receiving these cards, they used them to buy inventory for their business.
In the two years that have followed this type of fraudulent activity, the USDA has made a concerted effort, both the federal and the state governments, to crack down on this kind of illegal activity.
It has been reported that more than 1,400 other stores were involved in this or similar type of fraud.
There are many people who do need help. They need a hand up, not a hand out. It would be more of a kindness to help people into a life of accomplishment rather than a life of a dependency.
Some of those in need of help would be professionals in administration and social work that could use a decent job.
By employing sufficient qualified people to monitor the system, it would be possible to physically check out each location that applies for the privilege license to accept EBT cards and protect the poor from those who exploit those in need.
This could be combined with the DFCS program to ensure that the children of parents of TANF recipients are receiving the food that is intended for their nutrition.
It would be a favorable solution to a problem that allows a detrimental situation to flourish on more than one level, harming those it was intended to assist.