More of the Obama Legacy Unfolds: Food Stamps Expanded for Use on Amazon

More of the Obama Legacy Unfolds: Food Stamps Expanded for Use on Amazon

More of the Obama Legacy Unfolds: Food Stamps Expanded for Use on Amazon

Want a new gadget and have SNAP benefits to burn? Good. According to this, Obama has given a parting “initiative” to SNAP recipients in rural and urban areas to “facilitate” the “shopping experience”.

Online purchasing is a potential lifeline for SNAP participants living in urban neighborhoods and rural communities where access to healthy food choices can be limited,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement announcing the new program this week. “We’re looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP.” Besides Amazon, a few other online businesses have been approved by the feds to accept food stamps online, including Hy-Vee, Hart’s Local Grocers, Safeway and ShopRite. The USDA acknowledges however, that “online payment presents technical and security challenges that will need to be examined and fully addressed…-USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

You think? But in the meantime, by all means, offer up these benefits to individuals who may not be able to overlook the temptation to use them on other things that are not necessities to feed their children.

About 43 million low-income Americans rely on food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), for $66.6 billion in annual grocery benefits ( In addition, Amazon will also be taking steps to provide for low-income customers, offering up a $10.99 monthly payment plan for Prime benefits.

But, we need to take care of our inner-city “food deserts”, right? Because chips, soda and snack cakes are all these people are buying for their kids, right Michelle Obama?

How, exactly do we do that? By offering up easily accessible SNAP benefits to people who can just hop on their Obamaphones and browse Amazon for “healthy options”. You know, like that new PS-4 controller that they wanted? Or perhaps a designer bag they can wear to Wal-Mart when using up their remaining SNAP benefits. No disrespect to Amazon…I love Amazon..but this, in my opinion, is another failed attempt on behalf of Obama’s administration to keep the lazy-even lazier!

I am by no means begrudging a family who has fallen upon hard times and is temporarily (read: with the goal of eventually no longer needing these benefits and trying to get out of a hole) receiving these benefits. These are the people who are using these programs as they should be used. But through years of seeing my son through elementary school, Kindergarten through 5th grade, I have seen families who have been consistently receiving these benefits. Most of their parents are able-bodied to hold down at least ONE part-time job but have not for years. The kids come to school having eaten nothing for breakfast whilst mom goes to the convenience store after drop off and picks up a 12-pack of beer. They qualify for free and reduced lunch but throw out the food. Their parents manage to buy $2,000 gadgets but put in for assistance with holiday meals and gifts for their children. When it came time to pick up these gifts, generously provided by those in their community, one family rolled up in a Mercedes! I kid you not!

Seeing this frosted me beyond belief. Here we are, a retired Marine Corps family. My husband served his country and was proud to do so and he was beginning his career as a commercial airline pilot, starting out with the regional airlines. Regional pilots make about $25/hourly (sometimes less). For about a year and a half, we scraped by on retirement pay, my husband’s small bi-monthly paycheck and whatever work I did. Could we have qualified for SNAP? Perhaps so. But we did not go there. Could we have purchased a new vehicle? Yes and we needed to. But we didn’t. I went without seat warmers. I filled up my car with oil only to watch it leak on my garage floor for about a year. We ran lean. Yet, I was still able to buy fresh fruits and veggies at the supermarket and we were able to eat well. Funny how that works.

The point is, I highly doubt the USDA’s partnership with Amazon is going to encourage those in the “food desert” to buy fresh fruits and veggies for their kids if they haven’t already been doing so. Much less off of Amazon. This is not a question of accessibility and availability of the right resources to individuals in need but rather enabling those who know how to work the system to do so through yet another consumer channel. #ThanksObama. I’m willing to bet there will be “food deserts” or “food insecurity” with inner city and rural kiddos alike still eating packaged donuts and Doritos instead of fresh strawberries whilst mom surfs on her Lifeline phone and gets herself a new Coach purse.

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  • Lynn says:

    This seems unnecessarily mean-spirited. Do you really think that Amazon, one of the largest and most technologically sophisticated retailers in the universe, is going to find it difficult to limit SNAP purchases to legitimate food items?

  • Lisa Carr says:

    Mean spirited was not my intention though yes, I can see how it may be construed as such. The point I was trying to make was not that Amazon would not be able to control and limit these purchases to legitimate food items but that there ARE individuals out there who WILL attempt to play the system and see what it gets them. It is a pilot program and can be a decent one as long as decent people use it. But, sadly there will be individuals who will try and use it for their own purposes (one of those not being feeding their children). It is the sad reality we live in and our powers-that-be made this possible. It was more an attack on USDA and individuals who abuse these benefits, not Amazon. There are individuals who use them with positive intentions but there are those who find it just as easy and are perfectly fine putting their heads on a pillow that night using their SNAP benefits for other purposes or collecting them when they CAN work but choose NOT to. While it may sound mean-spirited, I just am not about those people getting the benefits while others work hard and make sacrifices and there are way too many of those people mixed in with those who have a genuine need.

  • GWB says:

    use them on other things that are not necessities to feed their children

    Having poked around at the Amazon grocery offerings, and the Prime 2-hour delivery stuff, I will say that I think Amazon will find it easy to keep SNAP-using customers from renting Die Hard or buying Kindles or selfie sticks. What they will find harder (because SNAP stopped making distinctions years ago) is keeping them from using their benefits to buy Doritos and Coke, rather than baby food and butter.

    I concur that SNAP – in an effort to be “non-judgmental” – has lost its bearings and its accountability.

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