Food stamps in restaurants!?
Lately there have been quite a few memes popping up regarding food stamp usage in America. Most of them are shared by the ignorant and bigoted people who feel the need to try to shame people who are using such benefits.
Why they do this, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it makes them feel better to put down those less fortunate than themselves. Maybe it’s because they are truly ignorant of what it’s like to be poor enough to have to use programs like these. Maybe it’s because they’ve been brainwashed by their favorite politician, news program or religious leader to think that people on welfare are lazy and selfish.
No matter what reason they use, the people who post these memes are the ones who are wrong. Wrong for not bothering – or outright refusing – to fact-check. Wrong for lacking compassion. Wrong for not using common sense.
The most recent meme that’s been floating around is the one complaining about restaurants accepting food stamps. Again, those posting it or “liking” it are guilty of not fact-checking and not using common sense.
Federal SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) policies allow each individual state to determine whether or not to allow food stamps to be used in a restaurant. Some states do, some don’t.
Now before you get your panties in a wad, or start screaming, “See, I told you so!”, there are a few things you should know about how it works, who qualifies, and the reasoning behind the policies.
You can’t just walk into any restaurant willy-nilly and use food stamps to pay for a meal. There are restrictions.
The restaurants have to be approved to accept food stamps. That approval isn’t handed out to just any restaurant. There has to be a reason that restaurant gets approval. Most of the time, it’s because it’s in an area where there are a high number of people who are qualified to use food stamps in restaurants, or in an area where there aren’t many other options for qualified food stamp users.
Then there are the qualifications for food stamp recipients. The only people who qualify are the elderly, disabled or homeless, and rarely, those who don’t have functioning equipment at their homes (refrigerator, stove).
According to the USDA website:
“With very few exceptions, SNAP benefits cannot be used in restaurants – less than one-tenth of one percent of SNAP benefits were used in restaurants in FY11. The law permits States to authorize restaurants to serve meals to some elderly, disabled, or homeless SNAP clients, who are unable to prepare meals at home. Only four States have chosen to do so.”
In the Pennsylvania SNAP handbook, section 503.3 describes what is and isn’t allowed:
SNAP benefits may also be used to pay for meals prepared and served by any of the following:
- Authorized meal-delivery services
- Communal dining facilities for the elderly or SSI households
- Rehabilitation centers for drug addicts or alcoholics
- Group-living units
- Shelters for battered women and children
- Authorized providers of meals for the homeless
- Authorized restaurants serving meals to the homeless, elderly, or disabled 7 CFR § 271.2(9)
Only homeless persons may use SNAP benefits in qualified restaurants. The CAO must issue a PA 2SP to the eligible client. The CAO must make the case record show that a PA 2SP was issued as a controlled document and include the name of the person in the household who is eligible for the qualified-restaurant program.
The reasons for allowing such provisions are because “homeless individuals don’t have kitchen spaces to cook meals, so buying unprepared foods at a grocery store may not be all that helpful. Those with disabilities might have a harder time cooking. And lastly, studies have shown that seniors are less likely to eat if they don’t get hot meals.” [source: Findlaw.com]
Anyone who disagrees with food stamps being used in this manner are also guilty of lacking compassion. If you continue to post these memes, do so at your own peril, because I will call you out on being willfully ignorant, bigoted, heartless assholes.
1. lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
2. lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
3. uninformed; unaware.
4. due to or showing lack of knowledge or training: an ignorant statement.
a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, esp on religion, politics, or race.