According to The New York Post, several supermarkets in areas of the Big Apple saturated with Caribbean immigrants are using food stamps to purchase barrels of food that can then be shipped to relatives back home.
The barrels cost approximately $40 and can then be filled with anywhere from $500 to $2,000 worth of food. It typically takes about three weeks to ship the barrels to countries like the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.
Because food stamp users – or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders – are giving a debit card to purchase food, it’s nearly impossible for merchants to prevent the food stamp users from purchasing a barrel on the government dime.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, told The Post that states should intervene if people are caught shipping barrels of non-perishable food abroad.
Although it is costly for Americans to spend upwards of thousands of dollars on these barrels, they say it’s worth it since the food available in the U.S. is superior and cheaper than what their families could get back home.
“Everybody does it,” a worker at an Associated Supermarket in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, told The Post. “They pay for it any way they can. A lot of people pay with EBT.”
According to the USDA’s June 2013 audit report, more than 47 million people are enrolled in the SNAP program, which had a budget of approximately $88.6 billion in 2012.