Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Food stamps at … Whole Foods?!

posted by Rod Dreher

And you thought people on food stamps only bought buckets o’ crap:

“I’m sort of a foodie, and I’m not going to do the ‘living off ramen’ thing,” he said, fondly remembering a recent meal he’d prepared of roasted rabbit with butter, tarragon and sweet potatoes. “I used to think that you could only get processed food and government cheese on food stamps, but it’s great that you can get anything.”
Think of it as the effect of a grinding recession crossed with the epicurean tastes of young people as obsessed with food as previous generations were with music and sex. Faced with lingering unemployment, 20- and 30-somethings with college degrees and foodie standards are shaking off old taboos about who should get government assistance and discovering that government benefits can indeed be used for just about anything edible, including wild-caught fish, organic asparagus and triple-crème cheese.

Hmm. You can look at this in a couple of ways. You could think, if you hipsters can afford to buy groceries at Whole Foods, you have no business on food stamps. Or you could see it as a good thing that people poor enough to qualify for food stamps are using that money not to buy junk food, but to eat healthy things.
I confess I did flinch at the idea of these people spending their taxpayer-provided food dollars at Whole Paycheck. And that made me realize that I have this unrecognized prejudice that the poor — meaning those who qualify for food stamps — must be condemned to eat cheap, bad food as the price of receiving state charity. That’s not right, is it? I mean, why wouldn’t I care if Joe Bob bought a box of Velveeta with his food stamps, but spending that money on a wedge of triple creme Brie rankles?



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:25 am


And that made me realize that I have this unrecognized prejudice that the poor –
I wonder how much of this prejudice – present in a large part of the US population – fuels the health care debate objections.



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LaShawn

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:28 am


I agree that it is a catch 22 no matter how you look at it. HOWEVER, there are much more cost effective ways to get healthy food than to go to Whole Foods. Granted they’re getting the same amount of money no matter where they spend it. So they are going to get less food for their money by going to whole foods instead of going to a local grocer and being selective about your purchases. Still, it does beg the question…when a vast majority of Americans can not afford triple creme Brie on a regular basis, why should those receiving our tax dollars? (as a side note…Velveeta is not cheap)



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public_defender

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:40 am


Doing your full grocery shop at Whole Foods would be really expensive, but the store does sell some really good food that’s less expensive than other places. You just have to be smart about what you buy there. And the odds that someone will get something nutritious is probably higher at Whole Foods than many grocery stores.
Sure, some people waste food stamps money the same way they waste other money, but there’s plenty of stuff to waste money on at regular grocery stores, too.
And for people with kids, Whole Foods gives them one more store to find healthy stuff their children will actually ingest. If that helps kids of people who need food stamps to teach healthy eating habits, then it’s worth my tax dollars.



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Kim

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:45 am


I know, I know, the economy is a wreck but I when I shop for groceries I shop at places with the LOWEST prices and use coupons when I can. For example, I pass by the fair trade, organic ground coffee for (horrors!) the Dunkin’ Donuts brand because that’s what I can afford on my budget. I don’t shop at Whole Paycheck is NOT a cheap place. These able-bodied hipsters want their vegan, gluten-free cake and eat it, too. And I’m paying for it.



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Morgan Morgan

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:50 am


I guess we can assume that (1) these people are buying and eating less food than those buying at grocery stores with little or no organic selection, and (2) they are, on average, buying healthier and more sustainably-grown food than their normal-grocery counterparts. I think these are both great things.
I doubt that my first fleeting fear — “What if daddy’s grass-fed beef obsession is leaving the rest of the family hungry?” — is at all relevant or with merit. Folks are obviously going to get food on the table for everyone.



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Franklin Evans

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:50 am


Lest we jump the gun here — not saying that there aren’t some valid points to be made — but Whole Foods has a corporate policy of community engagement that has a direct impact in this area. They will provide, free of charge to qualified organizations, basic catering to community events. I friend of mine is a manager at my local WF, so I have firsthand knowledge of this.
I submit that WF accepting food stamps is not, or should not be, a surprise.



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JamesG.

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:57 am


What causes me to flinch is not that he’s using food stamps at Whole Foods. That I don’t have any problem with. BUT, a sense of entitlement and snobbery wreaks through his remarks (and that would still cause me to flinch if he were paying with gold doubloons as well). Many a good soul has survived “doin’ the ramen thing” and come through with a greater appreciation of those in more permanent less fortunate circumstances.



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naturalmom

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:00 am


I can understand the initial flinch, but the amount of food stamp benefit is the same, no matter where the person shops or what they spend it on, so it’s no more skin off the tax-payer’s nose if they spend it at Whole Foods. They just get less food. And like Public Defender said, if they are buying bulk goods and sale items, it might not be that much more that *healthy* foods at the grocery store. Finally, consider the end cost — cheap junky food results in higher costs for health care. If this young person stays on public assistance (which is unlikely – sounds like a recession-induced situation for him), then he may be saving us money in the long run. (Even with the new health care legislation, he might be eligible for subsidies to buy insurance. The healthier the general population, the lower the premiums.)
As for prejudice toward the poor, this is common. I once heard a man speak on this topic who used to be on food stamps. He addressed the “judgment in the check out lane”. He said he had been known to buy a good steak now and then with his food stamps. He was willing to go hungry for a couple of days in exchange for the dignity of a good meal that would let him forget his troubles for a couple of hours. He said that being poor in America is so humiliating that sometimes poor people grasp on to things that remind them that they are still normal and human. I was touched by that. Those of us not on food stamps might have limited enough income that we have to make food choices — the steaks today, rice and beans tomorrow. Why shouldn’t people on food stamps be able to make the same kind of choice. It’s not like if they run out, they get more.



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Turmarion

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:04 am


When I’m economizing (which I am right now, though I’m not on food stamps) I generally divide food into two categories: compromise and no-compromise. Most foods fall into the first category–I buy as cheaply as possible (short of getting outright swill, such as wilted lettuce) on things where the quality difference is minimal (sugar is sugar, e.g.) or where I can tolerate the quality difference (e.g. soups or canned vegetables).
There are a few things, though, where I don’t compromise on quality. For example, I always buy brewed soy sauce, not the typical American processed version. It’s about $1.50 more, but I don’t use soy sauce rapidly and the difference in quality is significant for me. Another examples would be certain cheeses sometimes. I wonder if some of the people in the article are doing something like this–shop “normally” for what you really need, and then go to Whole Foods for a few luxuries.
Rod: And that made me realize that I have this unrecognized prejudice that the poor — meaning those who qualify for food stamps — must be condemned to eat cheap, bad food as the price of receiving state charity.
It’s good that you recognize that. I think many, many on the right have a tendency to see things this way, and even to go beyond it in seeing poverty as ipso facto a sign of moral degeneracy. I think John E. is right is thinking that this attitude plays into the healthcare debate, and I think it’s in a lot of other areas, too.



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Marie

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:07 am


A few years ago I did a price comparision of a few items found at the local quickie mart, the regional supermarket (Giant) and Whole Foods. Whole foods came out cheaper for milk and was pretty even with the quickie mart on tuna. Part of the reason why Whole Foods can be Whole Paycheck is that there are a lot of tempations with hefty price tags and there are some products that are vastly more expensive than the neighborhood supermarket.
If you want to be fair compare WF with your local quickie mart (7-11) for tuna, bread, milk, and other staples and WF is cheaper. Also keep in mind that the quickie mart is more accessable to the rural and intercity poor, and they (at least the mart a block from my house does) take food stamps.



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Morgan Morgan

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:13 am


@Kim: You write, “These able-bodied hipsters want their vegan, gluten-free cake and eat it, too. And I’m paying for it.”
Unless this is an argument against food stamps/welfare generally, I don’t understand how this escapes the prejudice against the poor that Rod mentions or how it escapes the ubiquitous reverse-snobbery that can often be boiled down to “I buy the cheapest thing out there because I ain’t no fancypants” and which plays well to (my) Republican party.
I guess what I want is for you to refine your complaint a bit: is it (1) a general problem with welfare, or (2) a problem with having your gluten-free cake and eating it too as opposed to having your Hostess cupcake and eating it too? While we can debate (1), I don’t see why our paying for welfare recipients’ food that is on average healthier, more humane, and more sustainable is a problem.
I guess a potential side of this complaint is that (3) you have a problem with your financial responsibility (buying inexpensive food) in light of foodstampers’ buying frou-frou food.
I apologize for such a long-winded reply to a simple comment, but as one who grew up in Palin’s Real America, comments like yours are familiar to me and especially stick in my craw.



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jen ambrose

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:25 am


Whole Foods also caters to people with food sensitivities. Dairy, wheat, and soy allergies do not limit themselves to the middle class



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Amy

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:28 am


Not everyone who is on food stamps are low-life mooches. I have learned this lesson well in the last couple of years.
I actually know LOTS of people on food stamps, none of whom fit the prejudice towards people on welfare that I USED to have. My husband is studying in seminary, and many seminarians with families go on food stamps as part of a way to support a family while preparing for ministry. Several good, honest people I know from church have had to go on food stamps after hitting a rough patch. And my brother is currently on food stamps because, even after graduating from a school ranked in the top 30 in the nation, he has not been able to find gainful employment. And before anyone accuses him of just being too lazy to find a job, he is working 2 part-time jobs (which together still don’t make him enough money), and he volunteers his time on a weekly basis with a local non-profit. So sometimes uses his food stamps at the likes of Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, but why should that bother me? Frankly, what bothers me WORSE is the thought of people who use food stamps on nothing but potato chips and soda and sugary cereals. No, I’d rather not pay anyone else’s way, but if my tax dollars are helping someone through a hard time, I DEFINITELY don’t want to be paying them to get fat and sick off junk food.



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deb

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:37 am


Kim: The thing is, the cheap food you’re buying is cheap at the store because you’re paying twice for it, at least. It’s just cheap on the grocery shelf. That price doesn’t reflect your taxes that went into subsidizing certain crops that make up such a large percentage of that cheap food; or your taxes that subsidize the oil industry and thus our petroleum-driven agriculture; and your taxes that go into remediating the health and environmental effects of this industrial food system. So, yes, you got some deals at the MegaMart. But if the shelf price of those groceries reflected all their externalized costs, you might reconsider the situation.



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Liam

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:56 am


Also, it should be noted that not everything at WF is more expensive than in budget (let alone regular) markets. They have certain staples marked very competitively.



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stephen

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:05 am


Not to mention that obesity is a bigger problem for most poor than actually going hungry.



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Jennifer

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:06 am


I think the problem here is the fact that as the majority of foods at Whole Foods are indeed more expensive than their Walmart or local grocery store counterparts, food stamps don’t go as far as they would at the latter stores. It’s simple math. Healthiness is more than just eating right, it’s about exercising and having the right frame of mind as well. Eating Velveeta for a few months or even a year while you transition from food stamps to a paycheck as opposed to a “wedge of triple creme Brie” is just not going to kill you, period. It seems that the most important thing would be to make sure that you have ENOUGH food for you and your family to last while you are on food stamps, not the organic, vegan, or whatever type of food WF sells. That doesn’t mean that every once in a while you can’t treat yourself to some of the offerings at WF, but people need to be practical and try to stretch their resources as much as they can. Otherwise, they’re just placing a greater burden on taxpayers to fund food stamps that aren’t being used wisely.



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MWorrell

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:24 am


I worked in a grocery store at one point, and my observation was that people paying with food stamps rarely bought healthy food, and that many of the things they did buy were things that *I* could not waste money on as a college student paying my own way through school. I would rather the government restricted the use of food stamps to nutritious diet staples (by restrictive labeling), and beyond that I don’t care where they buy it. Part of learning to get off of food stamps is figuring out that if you pay $7.00 for a gallon of milk, you probably won’t be eating for long.



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Charles Cosimano

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:24 am


Ok, I have to say this so cover your eyes.
If we stop feeding the poor we won’t have any more poor people.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled gang of usual suspects.



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Randy G.

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:26 am


It sounds like there are many opportunities — and perhaps many people ready to teach about wise ways of drawing food budgets and perhaps even preparing good food. This is a real way to battle the prejudice against the poor.
When we lived in Central Iowa, we sought to help folks who did not know how to prepare good food. One thing lost in the poverty that many face is a loss of a handing on of good food ways. We learned that this was one area where our churches could provide for their neighbors, and often learn a few good recipes along the way. In fact, we made foodways a key part of our campus ministry at Iowa State University.
Peace,
Randy Gabrielse



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Chuck Bloom

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:46 am


I offer this alternative theory: Many Whole Foods shoppers are NEW food stamps users because they’ve been caught in the dragnet of the slowing economy. While the venue is the same, the means of payment has changed.
Actually, the food stamp program benefits farmers first and then the poor. It was a program instituted (and overseen) by the Department of Agriculture in order to provide a steady market for American growers (mostly grain/corn) and, in turn, offer those products to people who could least afford them.
Society has tinged those employing food stamps with that scarlet letter but, when faced with the prospect of NOT having enough to eat, people will use what is at their disposal. I believe Whole Foods, and other “farmers market”-type chains are only reacting to a growing market.
In MANY places, times remain very, very tough.



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James III

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:48 am


Food stamps are not Charity, they violate the principle subsidiarity and take away so many beatitudes.



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Richard

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:53 am


Sorry, but I don’t think it’s prejudice to think that poor people shouldn’t be buying expensive ‘foodie’ items with government assistance.
Food stamps are supposed to be for people who can’t afford to feed their families, NOT people who can’t afford to feed their families on luxury grocery items.
Franklin is right that WF should accept food stamps if they want to, and God bless WF if they are helping out poor families in the community.
I employ a couple of families barely making it who get food stamps; and they would no more shop at WF than they would Bloomingdale’s – it’s not a wise use of their limited money.
Folks who can’t find work or are struggling to make it may just need some rather basic money management skills, including class on living above your means. And please don’t even bother to suggest that therefore the poor are consigned to crap. There’s a world of good nutrition between triple cream Brie and Velveeta.



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M.Z.

posted March 25, 2010 at 11:02 am


I employ a couple of families barely making it who get food stamps
Wow. You should be proud. Why not take your mouth of the government teat yourself and actually bother paying your employees a decent wage rather than having the rest of us provide for them?



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Your Name

posted March 25, 2010 at 11:22 am


Your concern for the working poor is overwhelming. They get paid a very decent wage, and healthcare, but many of their problems are a result of past decisions, big expenses like cars, and legal expenses from a son gone wrong.
And it’s so kind of you to simultaneously make unwarranted assumptions and judge us!
Geez, what’s the matter with you?!



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Richard

posted March 25, 2010 at 11:24 am


Sorry, that was mine -



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J

posted March 25, 2010 at 11:41 am


In many states you can also buy garden seeds and seedlings with food stamps. You have to work a lot harder at it when you’re poor (travel further for stores with fresh produce, bake your own bread, plant your own garden) but quality food is in the realm of possibility.
It bothers me that we should feel entitled to making decisions for other people because they are poor. We all need to feed our family healthy food and live within our means. We all need the means to live. Those with less means frequently face tougher choices.



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Pat Farren

posted March 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm


No one on food stamps should be buying food at Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s is a much more reasonable alternative. They should go to Aldi’s which is the cheapest food store I have ever seen. I shop Trader Joes, Wegmans, Aldi’s and BJ’s Wholesale. I am not on food stamps and only shop the sales at Wegmans. This is that entitlement mentality that all folks under 40 seem to have. These young “foodies” should try finding a roomate or two and pool their money. They might be surprised at how much they could save.



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naturalmom

posted March 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm


Richard, I’m not the one who made the original comment about your employees, but I’m a bit confused by your response. If your employees are receiving a “very decent” wage, how is it that they qualify for food stamps? Food stamp eligibility is based on income/assets only, not on income minus debt expenses. Even if they have huge debt obligations, if their gross income is over 130% of the poverty rate OR their net income over 100% of poverty rate, they shouldn’t qualify for food stamps. http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/applicant_recipients/eligibility.htm
I’m not making “unwarrented assumptions” — perhaps these are half-time workers — but if they are full time, then it’s reasonable to assume they are not making much above poverty level wages. As a business owner, perhaps the wage you pay is consistent with the market value for that job, and paying more would disadvantage you with your competitors. That is less an indictment of you, personally, than of the economic system as a whole. The tax-payers are essentially subsidizing business owners’ ability to pay low wages so that those same tax-payers can pay less for goods and services. Kind of nuts, but that seems to be the way we want to do it, on the whole. We are so addicted to cheap that I suspect that’s the way it will be for some time.



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Franklin Evans

posted March 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm


A general call to caution: Beware of assumptions.
Richard will answer about his stated situation as he wishes or can. I’m not referring to that. But “they can do this” or “they shouldn’t do that” ignores that the people about whom we are talking don’t have the wherewithal to have many of those choices.
They don’t have cars (despite the apocryphal stereotypes to the contrary). They may have four or more children, and without a car the economies of scale they’d get going to a chain store (other than WF) are just not available to them. They shop where they can reach, and they buy what those stores offer.
WF, the store I know, has quite a few choices in what Richard refers to as “a world of good nutrition between triple cream Brie and Velveeta.” Knowing the prices at that store, I can well imagine a health-conscious parent with food stamps choosing to shop at WF for the quality of the merchandise without sacrificing quantity compared to the chain supermarket at the very same intersection as that WF (Super Fresh, if you’re curious).



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stari_momak

posted March 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm


The irony is that some of the best, most flavorful foods, and some of the most famous dishes, have roots in poverty. The spanish omelette — cheap eggs, cheap potatoes, ordinary (cheap) olive oil, some garlic, some care in cooking, and you have a dish fit for a king. Chuck steak in the crockpot (or equivalent) – all that grizzle is really cartilage waiting to be broken down into unctuous goodness, with some carrots and potatoes along for the ride. Mac and Cheese doesn’t need super expensive paste, let alone truffle oil, to be terrific (though it does need decent quality cheese). Ten pounds of black beans at the Smart and Final, along with just a bit of sausage or smoked pork and a few veggies — that will feed a person for a weak. 5 pounds of flour is good for at least 3 solid loaves of tasty, interesting , filling bread — use the ‘no-knead’ method.
Poverty should be seen as an opportunity to try these old ways of feeding a bunch of folks cheaply — and you don’t need grass-fed beef or $10/lb pasta to make these dishes.



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Cindy Marsch

posted March 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm


I suspect people who use food stamps for gourmet foods have an “alternate income stream,” one not reported on food stamp qualification paperwork.
I once stood in the checkout line behind a woman buying the BEST steak and shrimp as the only items she was buying–with food stamps. I tried to tell myself that perhaps it was a wedding supper she was buying for . . .



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Knez Dan

posted March 25, 2010 at 2:53 pm


Rod: I love you but having not spent food stamps since I was a child, when my family was briefly on the government dole, we would use the stamps at holiday times to buy the foods that we traditionally had on holidays, like shrimp for the night of the 7 fishes and ham for Pascha (Easter for the rest of you.) So, this is not new. It’s a Catch 22 my friend. Would that all could buy inexpensive healthy foods, foodies or not.



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brian

posted March 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm


I’m Franklin, on two points:
1. Community engagement: I’ve worked directly with the local Whole Foods on bike advocacy events. The local store also buys produce from several small urban farms.
2. Reasonably priced food: Again, shopping at Whole Foods isn’t going to break the bank.
At the end of the day, we shop at the local co-op, but still do some shopping at WF when we can get to the store when it’s not insanely busy.



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Max

posted March 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm


Whole Foods is not expensive if you stay away from all the processed foods. The fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper (and fresher) than the ones at the ‘cheap’ supermarket. The bulk grain/bean/seed aisle at WF can’t be beat. A box of barley at the ‘cheap’ store is $3. I can get a pound at WF for about 1/2 that. The Whole Foods brand canned goods are priced similarly to canned goods at other stores. I think the people that think you can’t get competitively priced goods at Whole Foods have either never been to one or being disingenuous.



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Zoetius

posted March 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm


Understandable Rod,
Folks have the same knee jerk reaction to the poor and health care.
Though spending food stamps at whole foods might ultimately have a better impact on the overall health of the population.



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Norwich

posted March 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm


The poor don’t “deserve” good food, just as they don’t “deserve” good health care? We’ll subsidize them if they buy Velveeta at Junk Foods Inc, but not if they buy organic produce (for exactly the same total price) at Whole Foods?
There’s a whole world of unsavory assumptions here.



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Your Name

posted March 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm


I’ll reiterate what’s been said a couple times above – Whole Foods does not have to be that expensive if you’re judicious about what you buy. When I was supporting myself on my first, very low-paying full-time job I did my shopping at Whole Foods, because I could walk there from my place and because I thought the quality was bit better than the regular supermarket. If you buy prepared foods and artisanal cheeses it gets pricey fast, but if you’re just buying milk-eggs-bread-pasta-cereal it’s in the same ballpark as the regular supermarket. Whole Foods store brands on things like cereal and pasta sauce are actually cheaper than and at least as good as the name brands I would buy at Super Fresh.



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Norwich

posted March 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm


It’s so difficult, isn’t it, to stop oneself from making adverse assumptions about people one does not know.
Some benighted KFC owner in the UK decides, in response to his market, to eliminate bacon from his chicken sandwiches, and he’s a bad man. Some recipient of food stamps figures out that produce at Whole Foods is better and cheaper than the junk available in her neighborhood, so she makes the effort to shop at a distance from her home to feed her family healthy food. Some poor woman has an uncontrollable screaming toddler on a train, so she’s an inadequate parent.
The KFC guy may be a bad man. The shopper at Whole Foods may be a welfare-fraud type. The woman with the screaming baby may be a bad mom. Or whatever. We just don’t know.
We all do it. Make those assumptions. Notice, by the way, how many of our assumptions about strangers are negative, how few are positive. (Do I assume that the guy on the corner with the dreads is a saint? Hardly. But he might be, you know.) This says more about us than it says about the strangers we’re projecting these opinions upon.



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Norwich

posted March 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm


If your employees are receiving a “very decent” wage, how is it that they qualify for food stamps?…Even if they have huge debt obligations, if their gross income is over 130% of the poverty rate OR their net income over 100% of poverty rate, they shouldn’t qualify for food stamps.
This happened to us, back in the day. We were in that condition for several years. I think it’s even more common now. You work. You work full time. But the wages are so low that you still qualify for food stamps.
So the answer is….what? Disqualify full-time workers for food stamps, however little they make, however large their families? That would compromise the nutrition of any children involved, which would be OK why? Pay workers more? God forbid, I guess.
A “very decent” wage, even a “decent” wage, should raise a breadwinner above the food stamp line. If it doesn’t we need to re-examine the decency of the wage.



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jcm

posted March 25, 2010 at 5:15 pm


The larger point is that our nation is going broke FAST because honest taxpayers are getting abused by welfare cheats and food stamp cheats. Sadly, any government program that is funded on an open-ended basis by taxpayers will be gamed and gamed and gamed. It has now gotten to the point where if you care about other people and you have been convinced by some politician that a government program is a way to help them, well you are just getting played. Sad but true.



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dgala

posted March 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm


Which would YOU want your tax dollars going to? A family who DOES have at least one member working full time (no extravagent spending or bills other than those for housing, utilities, food) who just needs “a little extra” to make ends meet; or a family of “bums” with both hands out with no desire or motivation to work? I’ve seen this and it makes me furious to see my tax dollars wasted. Now they want us to add illegals to the “dole”!!



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Norwich

posted March 25, 2010 at 5:32 pm


Hey wait a minute there jcm.
My family received food stamps because there was a recession on, and no one could find work. Even when my husband did find work, it paid so little that we still qualified for food stamps. Did I mention that we had little kids? Were we “food stamp cheats”? We’re very high up on the income scale now, I’m willing to bet, in the dark, higher than you are, and we’ve paid it back in taxes many times over. And I don’t begrudge a penny of it.
You think American children should be malnourished…why again? You lost me at the turn.



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Your Name

posted March 25, 2010 at 6:18 pm


This article is based upon a government-funded program. My point was about government-run welfare programs specifically.
Our nation used to have a privately funded safety net in every locale where people got the help they needed when times were tough. Later on, those same people might be the ones organizing relief for others. Usually these programs ran through churches but not in every case. It worked and it could not be cheated (not easily at least) because federal government bureacrats were not involved. A local government official might be involved. A neighbor in many cases. The assistance was temporary, not a family tradition.
You have mistaken my disdain for widely-abused government run entitlements and welfare programs for a dislike of all charity.
That is not my stance. I want people to get the help they need. I also want this county to avoid bankruptcy.



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jcm

posted March 25, 2010 at 6:19 pm


above comment – by jcm



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Moksha8088

posted March 25, 2010 at 7:48 pm


Perhaps we need to look at who qualifies for the food stamp program before we shout at “young hipsters” looking for a gourmet meal. Just remember that one of your truffles equals a month’s worth of store brand macaroni and cheese on the Fox exchange.



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Randy G.

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:48 pm


I agree with JCM. “Sadly, any government program that is funded on an open-ended basis by taxpayers will be gamed and gamed and gamed.”
This is why we need to end corporate welfare, aka economic development programs for businesses, free infrastructure improvements, no-bid contracting, enterprise zones and “urban renwal.”
All of these systems are at least as gamed as any programs to help the poor. And in fact, far more is lost in “gaming” by high-paid administrators than by nickel-dime gaming by the poor.
Peace,
Randy G.



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Your Name

posted March 25, 2010 at 8:54 pm


How did we go from them shopping at Whole Foods (incidentally, you who call it “Whole Paycheque” obviously need to learn some impulse control rather than blaming the store), to them cheating the system? Where they shop is not evidence for whether they actually quality for the assistance.



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Andrea

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm


They get the same amount of money as the people who buy Cheez-Whiz and fish sticks at the local supermarket. Either they eat less or get super deals at Whole Foods. It’s none of my business how they spend it, except perhaps to congratulate them for eating healthy. I also have no right to point fingers at the poor. I’m all too aware that “There but for the grace of God go I.” Given my dietary restrictions, I’d be one of the people looking for deals at Whole Foods since I’m diabetic and a near vegan. I don’t do Ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese either. Whenever possible I eat fresh fruits and vegetables.



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Jon

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:07 pm


Your Name of 6:15:
The probloem with private charity is that it fails, and fails badly, during times of general economic distress (like now) since while the need explodes, the contributions dry up. This is why we have a public welfare system, and not because Sauron Lord of Mordor sent his Democratic servants to bind us under the One Ring. (OK, I am being sarcastic. Shame on me). Back in the Great Depression there were hordes of people seriously malnourished, sick and homeless with no help available. The churches, honestly desiring help for these people, were the first to push for public relief.
Also, is there really a lot of welfare cheating going on? I rather doubt it, though to be sure dishonesty and fraud are part of the human condition, never to be exorcized in this age of the world, so I’m sure someone can provide anecdotes worthy of Mr Reagan’s Cadillac-enthroned Welfare Queen. In the end I care far more that children do not go to bed starving than that some grifter has a nip of gin on my tax dime.



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sigaliris

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm


If the churches had ever done an adequate job of assisting the poor, why would there have been any need for a government program? They could have pointed to all their assistance programs and told the voters, “Look at all we’re doing–there really isn’t a problem with hunger in our town.” Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Of course, churches could still pull together, make an effort, and prove to the people that government programs have become redundant. I won’t be holding my breath–not even in Utah.



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David J. White

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm


I would rather the government restricted the use of food stamps to nutritious diet staples (by restrictive labeling)
Well, MWorrell, I guess in your world poor people who have to buy prepared foods because they are just too exhausted or have too little time to cook due to work or childcare or other responsiblities, are just screwed then, aren’t they?
Why don’t we just round up all the poor people and make them live in the workhouse and feed them all gruel? Will that make some of you happy?



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matt

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:39 pm


ANDREA! Who cares what you eat!



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stari_momak

posted March 25, 2010 at 9:49 pm


Not really on or off topic, but this Lierre Keith woman has some interestng things to say about food from a very radical perspective.



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Peterk

posted March 25, 2010 at 10:37 pm


@Jon “The probloem with private charity is that it fails, and fails badly, during times of general economic distress ”
do you have evidence of this that you can share with the rest of us or must we accept on faith what you say?



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted March 25, 2010 at 11:26 pm


When I was a child, poor families didn’t get food stamps, they got government surplus commodities, like big #10 cans of peanut butter, and boxes of powdered milk. Food stamps are about freedom of choice, and they are also better for America’s food businesses, which was part of the motivation. I, personally, have never received food stamps, and I budget my food purchases very carefully, whether I am out of work or making a union scale paycheck with (gasp!) medical coverage. Right now I’m living hand to mouth, but I always buy what’s on sale anyway. If someone receiving food stamps chooses to use the limited quantity available at Whole Foods, more power to them. Just because I don’t shop there doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t. The fact that they are using food stamps makes no difference.
It may be true that they are getting smaller quantities, but that’s a matter of individual choice and responsibility, not a matter for all of us to gather round and moralize about. After all, they are the ones who will be eating the smaller quantity in a trade-off for better quality. I have been matched with a little brother for four years now, whose mother has a very limited food budget, but has assiduously cultivated in her son a taste for fruit salads over junk food. Its not that he doesn’t like junk food, but he will choose the fruit salad voluntarily much of the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if she started checking out Whole Foods — at least what she can afford in sufficient quantity to feed four children.



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Indy

posted March 26, 2010 at 5:59 am


I appreciate hearing from so many people who either have used food stamps or know people that have. I do think it helps to put a human face on some of these issues. Relying on private charities alone can be problematic for a number of issues. One, as other posters have pointed out, is that the supplies can dry up. I read several articles soon after the economic downturn started in 2007-2008 in which officials of charitable organizations expressed concern about a drop in donations. The other potential problem is reliability in terms of equity, fairness, and assessing need. However one feels about government red tape, government efforts to assist people tend to be needs based. They’re based on income levels. When you deal with people in the private sector, it seems to me you are more vulnerable to their whims and, in worst cases, prejudices and biases. It’s harder to guarantee that everyone facing economic hardship would be helped.
Again, I think I’m just expressing some caution based on what I see in web comboxes, which reveal a lot of human weaknesses. I’m much more aware of how much some people distrust or even seem to hate their fellow Americans than I was, say, ten years ago. For better or worse, what I read in comboxes is at the back of my mind when I think about structures and whom I would myself trust to be in charge of efforts which are supposed to be based on need rather than likes and dislikes and all the emotions that can roil message boards.



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Richard

posted March 26, 2010 at 7:44 am


naturalmom, I really have no idea as to what their icnome assets etc. are beyond what I pay to the one teacher: $35K per year plus an excellent BC/BS health plan for her family which we pay for 100%. Her husband has been in and out of jobs, she has four kids, two of which have learning differences and require private school and/or tutors, one in college, and one in all kinds of legal trouble. She’s my employee, not my sister, and so I do not know her detailed eligibility info. And it is none of my business.
She would be the first one to tell you that you might feed one person or possibly a couple at WF, but there is NO WAY to feed a family on food stamps at WF. They don’t call it Whole Paycheck for nuttin.



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Andrea

posted March 26, 2010 at 9:15 am


Well, Matt, no one except that I find myself picturing myself in the same position and imagining that I would do the same thing as the people in this article. I don’t know that anyone needs to care what the people in this article are eating. They all are allowed a certain amount of money and have the freedom to spend it, whether it’s at Whole Foods or the Mini Mart. If they’re being wasteful they’ll have no money at the end of the month and will have to learn how to shop differently.



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Max

posted March 26, 2010 at 10:52 am


possibly a couple at WF, but there is NO WAY to feed a family on food stamps at WF.
I contend that they CAN. The caveat is that they have to buy real food–grains,fruits, veggies, dairy, and the occasional meat purchase. Of course, if there current diet consists solely on processed foods like cheap frozen pizza and potato chips, then they can’t.
They don’t call it Whole Paycheck for nuttin.
Rubbish.



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Marian

posted March 26, 2010 at 11:04 am


Can you say “sumptuary laws”?



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Marian

posted March 26, 2010 at 11:09 am


And, BTW, I was on food stamps for a while in the 1970s. It was an interesting experience. When I first applied, I got dropped off at the welfare office by a friend of mine in an outrageously expensive car, no doubt reinforcing somebody’s “welfare queen” illusions.



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Marian

posted March 26, 2010 at 11:10 am


The whole point of food stamps as opposed to commodity distributions was to give poor people access to The Market to make their own free choices. So how on earth is it anyone’s business what choices they make?



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LutheranChik

posted March 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm


I recall one afternoon I spent, as part of my then-job, riding along as an observer with a meals-on-wheels volunteer — a disabled veteran who drove a rustbucket truck and lived hand to mouth. We passed by some homes in our rural area with signs advertising various homegrown foods for sale, and I mentioned that our household liked to buy food directly from the grower. The man’s eyes lit up, and he told me how much better he felt when he ate produce from people’s gardens and meat directly from farmers. We shared some of our favorite places for procuring such food in the area. It struck me at the time that this man was as concerned about healthfulness and flavor of food as I was…and it shamed me to realize that I’d assumed he wasn’t because of his financial situation. Ouch.
I will also point out that, reputation aside, it’s relatively easy to eat modestly using Whole Foods staple products and shopping their other wares judiciously.



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Richard

posted March 26, 2010 at 7:46 pm


Oh, Max, please: fresh fruits & vegetables are among the priciest of grocery items other than meat. Shopping staples alone stores may be comparable, but why would you go out of your way to WF for bungwad?
Take look at typical WF prices v. those of, say Redner’s or Giant for meats and produce. Families looking to make their dollars go further don’t shop the most expensive stores.
I’m happy to help people get to the point where they can shop anywhere they bloody well please. But I’d prefer when shopping on the public dime that they would be frugal and searching out bargains. There’s many to be had out there, especially in the PA area where Rod lives (has anyone told you about BB’s and Pleasant Valley yet, Rod?)



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Dan Berger

posted March 26, 2010 at 7:53 pm


I confess I did flinch at the idea of these people spending their taxpayer-provided food dollars at Whole Paycheck. And that made me realize that I have this unrecognized prejudice that the poor — meaning those who qualify for food stamps — must be condemned to eat cheap, bad food as the price of receiving state charity.
Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding; yet for the poor we delight in stripping it still barer. – Samuel Johnson



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Mogden

posted March 27, 2010 at 10:57 am


I can’t understand this argument at all. Surely the reason that we give people food stamps is because they are struggling and poor. And if they are struggling and poor, they should make different choices than shopping at Whole Foods. Continuing to shop at Whole Foods indicates that they are not really struggling all that much, so they probably don’t need so many food stamps, or any at all, to start with. What am I missing?
I as a taxpayer rarely afford myself the luxury of shopping at Whole Foods, so it rankles to be compelled to subsidize somebody else’s fancy food purchase.



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neil

posted March 27, 2010 at 11:09 am


Surely the reason that we give people food stamps is because they are struggling and poor. And if they are struggling and poor, they should make different choices than shopping at Whole Foods do what I tell them to.



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freemti

posted March 27, 2010 at 11:29 am


The 365 WF house brand is competitively priced and while WF is definitely more expensive overall the margin is not as much as you think. Trader Joe’s, another supposed foodie/yuppie haven is actually cheaper on some selected items



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Brooklyn

posted March 27, 2010 at 11:32 am


‘Let them eat cake’ ? Wait, no, that’s not nutritious… This is prejudice, straight and simple; kudos to those who admit it. I can understand not using food stamps to buy alcohol (there goes cooking with Julia Child), but to get into a snit because people use FS at Whole Foods is really unreasonable. I’d much rather argue against WF because of the policies its CEO (John Mackey) promotes. But their food – hey, fresh produce is good for people, and they are probably healthier because they spend FS on escarole rather than Cheetos.



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MNPundit

posted March 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm


“And that made me realize that I have this unrecognized prejudice that the poor — meaning those who qualify for food stamps — must be condemned to eat cheap, bad food as the price of receiving state charity.”
As your comments show, most Republicans have this prejudice. Most in fact, have many prejudices against poor people that they do not realize until actually confronted with the situation.



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RK

posted March 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm


So Food stamps can only be used to buy non-prepared food, and recipients get a fixed amount each month. “Searching out bargains” doesn’t save the taxpayers any money because we don’t get it back, and it doesn’t save the recipient any money because the balance doesn’t carry over. So if someone can make their monthly payment last even though they shop at Whole Foods, what’s the problem?
I think (correct me if I’m wrong), that some commenters are assuming that the monthly stipend can’t possible cover a month’s worth of food at WF, so they must be supplementing it with their own funds. And if they just used those “own funds” at Giant, they would’t need food stamps. But clearly they qualify for whatever standards are set for food stamps. If you have a problem with the standards, that’s a different argument than thinking we should somehow restrict food stamps to cheap — and likely unhealthy — food.



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Ashley

posted March 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm


Everyone should read the actual article he referenced. They don’t only shop at Whole Foods. They shop at neighborhood ethnic markets, farmers markets, etc. http://www.salon.com/life/pinched/2010/03/15/hipsters_food_stamps_pinched/index.html
Also, you should read a letter to the editor from one of the “hipsters” featured in the original article. http://www.salon.com/life/pinched/2010/03/17/hipster_food_stamp_response/index.html/index.html



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JimmyWineMajestic

posted March 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm


The economy is in such a wreck that the middle class is on food stamps. Ponder that and stop telling people where to shop.
(It does amuse me that the very same people who blubber – quite incorrectly – about gov’t takeover of this and that want to tell other people where to spend their gov’t dollars.)



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am

posted March 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm


I think the reason your intuition tells you they should buy velveeta instead of triple creme brie is that when you were young and money was tight, velveeta was good enough for you. I used to earn a lot less money than I do now, and you know what? I had to live on a budget. That did not mean I had to eat unhealthy food but it did mean generics instead of brands, and it meant a block of cheddar cheese instead of a wedge of the fancy import.



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theotherjimmyolson

posted March 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm


Under no circumstance is it an of my concern where a food stamp recipient shops or what they purchase.Nor is it any of yours.



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RD

posted March 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm


Heaven forbid the poor get any enjoyment out of life. If you think it is somehow wrong for people on food stamps to shop at Whole Foods, you might consider that some people would rather spend a little more money on good food, and a little less somewhere else. Those who qualify for food stamps are most certainly living on a budget. It may not be the budget you would choose for yourself, but there’s no doubt it is a tight budget.



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Angela

posted March 27, 2010 at 8:14 pm


MNPundit seems to nail it -
“And that made me realize that I have this unrecognized prejudice that the poor — meaning those who qualify for food stamps — must be condemned to eat cheap, bad food as the price of receiving state charity.”
As your comments show, most Republicans have this prejudice. Most in fact, have many prejudices against poor people that they do not realize until actually confronted with the situation.
—————————————————————-
I would only add, thanks to the unfortunate aligning of parts of the Christian church with Republicans, it seems a lot of Christians have this prejudice also.



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Kelly Holden

posted March 27, 2010 at 11:16 pm


@Kim: “These able-bodied hipsters want their vegan, gluten-free cake and eat it, too. And I’m paying for it.”
What, foodstampers aren’t ‘allowed’ to have coeliac disease and/or want to eat in in accordance with their religion and/or moral code? Because, I’m pretty sure those are the most common reasons for eating gluten-free and/or vegan food. Coeliac can be debilitating if the diet isn’t followed properly, and even other, less serious forms of gluten or wheat intolerance aren’t a trendy picnic. As for vegan, it’s as genuine a requirement for some paths and religions as kosher and halal are to observant Jews and Muslims, not something you choose to be cool. PKU patients — also not a picnic — require a very low protein diet, doubtless easiest to comply with when animal products are not consumed.



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Matt

posted March 28, 2010 at 8:11 am


I am eligible for food stamps because I am on disability. I am back in school preparing for a career that will most likely allow me to leave disability in a few years. I use my food stamps almost exclusively at the local Super-Walmart because I can get decent food at decent prices if I take a little extra time while I am grocery shopping. Due to this I sometimes have a little extra left over at the end of the month and I have used that occasional extra to shop at, you guessed it, Whole Foods. Usually I will either treat myself to the salad bar (the cold half is food stamps approved, the hot half is not since it is considered “prepared food”) or I will pick up some items that simply aren’t available at the other grocery stores in my area; soy products, certain fruits and veggies, certain frozen foods (mostly “ethnic” foods) that I enjoy. If I have done well on my budget for the preceding month and have shopped wisely and carefully then I am not sure what the harm is in my using the surplus (which is not always left over at the end of each month) to buy some high quality, healthy and interesting food at a store that provides them? When I first received food stamps and used them at Whole Foods the first couple times I actually felt guilty and wondered if I was not being irresponsible somehow. I had a conversation with a friend where the subject came up and they said “Well, why shouldn’t the poor eat healthy food too? Would it be better if you bought cheap junk and then ended up using your Medicare to pay for diabetes care or treatment for a heart attack later?” I don’t have a foolproof answer to the considerations brought up by other commenters or even the questions I myself have brought up but i thought I would share my experiences and thoughts on the subject. thanks for your time everyone, Matt.



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mr burns

posted March 28, 2010 at 11:11 am


If I am poor it means that I am not able (or willing) to provide others with goods or services that they value very much. If this is so because I am disabled then I must rely on the charity of my fellow man and it is in everyones best interests if I make the best use of such charity as I can (that way the wealth available for charity can help as many as possible) . An obvious approach is to eat less expensive foods. Many such foods are quite nutricious and tasty (but may require more time and or effort to prepare)
1 lb. chicken hearts (less than $1 pound)
1 leek or onion chopped
1 Garlic chopped
1 Pepper to taste
1 Salt to taste
1 olive oil
Marinate (optional): combine the garlic, olive oil, and salt/pepper in a bag and add the chicken hearts; marinate for 2-3 hours. Saute the leek or onion and additional garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the chicken hearts and saute over medium heat until done, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice (or penne) .
plenty of protein . good source of B12 , B6 and folate
Providse some zinc, selenium and other minerals as well some omega 3&6 fatty acids.



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Sherry

posted March 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm


You can use coupons at WF, too. (See above link.) That makes a difference.
Matt, thanks for sharing your story!



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Everett

posted March 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm


This whole discussion is so weird. I am disabled and therefore on food stamps (and Social Security Disability, Medicare, etc.) and therefore it is extremely important that I eat a healthy diet. My health is very poor and if I don’t take care of the most basic things – diet (proper nutrition), exercise, and rest – the consequence will be a painful collapse I am not willing to suffer through. So I eat, yes, organic fresh vegetables, organic whole grains, organic olive oil, organic tofu and tempeh, farm-fresh eggs, natural beef, organic nuts, etc. I am very poor but good nutrition is worth it. If I were actually to eat what you people seem to think I should – velveeta cheese, for god’s sake, and ramen noodles, and probably wonderbread, instant mashed potatoes, and fruit loops . . . well, forgive me, but I’m not willing to risk the consequences. You classist, ableist, assholes!



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SukieTawdry

posted March 29, 2010 at 6:11 pm


No, Rod, I’ve seen far too many food stamps recipients’ grocery baskets to think they buy only “buckets of crap.” Are we now going to pretend that a person can’t have a healthy diet unless he shops at Whole Foods? Hate to break it to you, but regular, and even discount, grocery stores have organic, “health” and ethnic food choices available. I’m sorry, but public money should not be spent on rabbit, wild salmon and triple creme brie. There are many, many people who don’t qualify for food stamps but still are unable to afford such delicacies for themselves. Why should they have to underwrite “foodies,” their friends and their oh so discerning palates? Furthermore, college students should not be eligible for food stamps. Period. And neither should people in AmeriCorps. Cripes.



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PA IMCW

posted March 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm


I’m a PA welfare intake caseworker, and every new college semester we seem to get a spike in applications from ordinary college students and Americorps “volunteers” (I put volunteers in parenthesis because they receive a regular stipend and are thus paid).
The students more often than not do not qualify as they are neither working 20 hours a week at minimum wage or are not in a work study program; many do not qualify because they’re under 22 years old and live with a biological parent (the parent must apply or consent to be part of the Food Stamp household, and their income and resources must be counted). And the Americorps volunteers are universally surprised to learn that, unless they were receiving Food Stamps (I refuse to call it SNAP–this isn’t a Wayans Brothers sketch), their stipend is counted as income….



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Marsha

posted March 30, 2010 at 8:08 am


I think food stamps should be limited to real food, not junk food. And for food sensitivities and some staple, Whole Foods can be OK. For example, those on raw food diets rarely find unwilted greens in regular stores, believe me, you can taste a huge difference.
However, this is provided by the rest of us, many of us can’t afford much of whole foods. So we do get a say in where it’s spent.
Companies like wal-mart used to tell employees how to get food stamps. That’s corporate socialism.
I fed my family on $75 a week for 3 meals a day, 5 people, and 2 snacks each. The trick is cut down on the snacks and prepared food. Use bulk cooking to freeze, the crockpot to soften tough meat and poultry, and cook soup from dried beans and legumes. All this can be done if you work. Limit pop and alcohol too. Your kids will grow up healthy, mine rarely eat snacks, and never drink pop. I used to combine sparkling water and juice, instead of pop. And popsicles were homemade with fruit juice, much healthier.



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JA

posted March 31, 2010 at 7:10 pm


Yes, students who qualify should get food stamps. Perhaps many of you here should read a report from the Gates Foundation that shows many current students would benefit from access to SNAP.
http://www.gatesfoundation.org/united-states/Pages/their-whole-lives-ahead-of-them.aspx
Second of all, it seems that many of you think that by one person signing up for SNAP takes away the opportunity for another ‘deserving’ person to sign up. The SNAP program is an entitlement program. That means whoever qualifies and enrolls for food stamps gets them. There isn’t a quota or a limit.
Third, the allotment for food stamps is the same no matter where or how they are spent. The taxpayer (which includes the person receiving SNAP) is providing the same monetary value of food no matter where or how they are spent. Recipients are free to make a choice in their food matters. In fact, this is probably the best aspect of SNAP. It is also one of the most capitalistic aspects of the SNAP program. It has always intrigued me that the same people who want to control the food purchases of recipients of SNAP are also the same people who rally against nanny state government interventions like transfat bans.
One out of eight in America is food insecure. SNAP is the best and most efficient means of fighting food insecurity.
@PA IMCW – That Americorps restriction is only relevant for VISTAs not the other Americorps volunteers.



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Joe

posted April 15, 2010 at 2:17 am


No matter how many legitimate food stamp users post here, there will always be those poverty bigots. I am Christian, Republican, disabled, poor and shop at Whole Paycheck when I can’t get what I need at Trader Joe’s. Just because someone uses food stamps at WF’s doesn’t mean anything at all. What it means to me is that I don’t want to eat anything that is genetically modified. What it means to other people has been posted; they value the health of their children, have special needs, etc. I knew a young man who had cancer and was on food stamps while he recovered.
What really bothers me is watching the food stamp customer fill his basket with soda and chips and artificial food to feed his children. That is what I call government waste. However, I think the government should not dictate, but rather teach. The WIC program is a disaster and is one reason there is an epidemic of obese infants.



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Your Name

posted April 19, 2010 at 12:59 pm


I have requested food stamp on 6 apr10 but have been told pending. are they there to ffeed or help starve the people? no one ever return a call when a message is left on the recorder. state of ga



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Rollk

posted April 21, 2010 at 4:17 am


I’m a college student who is working on-campus with work-study. I live off campus in an apartment with a room mate, and after rent, utilities, and my phone are paid, i only have around $200 to live off of for the remaining month (I make $800). My parents don’t help me that much either, so I was basically forced to apply for food stamps, and it was a delight to know that work-study automatically makes you eligible. I get $200 a month for food, and believe me, I make it last. I go to Trader Joes and QFC/Safeway and buy as much in bulk as I can. I also stock up on breads, milk, pasta and as many 10 for $10 items I can find (this week was 10 boxes of instant pasta & rice for $10). I also buy a lot of apples, canned tuna, yogurts and things that are easy to grab-and-go since I am in class or working at least 9hrs a day. I avoid things such as chips, protein bars and junk food because I only have time to eat about 3 times a day, so when I am hungry, I want a legitimate meal that is filling.
If it weren’t for the state of Washington and my EBT card, I would be royally screwed. I think it’s a great program and an example of tax dollars well spent.



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JRedmerski

posted April 23, 2010 at 10:21 am


I’m a YA and Urban Fantasy writer and an advocate for helping welfare recipients get out of ‘The System’. I run a site and community exposing the dirty little secrets of HUD, the Department of Human Services and Child Support Enforcement and explain the many reasons why it’s next to impossible fore welfare recipients to get out. How do I know these things? I AM a recipient.
P.S. your blog is interesting and I’ll be reading more!



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isabel S

posted May 24, 2010 at 8:39 pm


I am on food stamps for the first time in my life. I see others on it also – but see them buying junk foods.
I dont know why a lot of ignorance goes together with poverty when libraries are free and available everywhere.



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Martin

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:19 am


This idea that Whole Foods is super expensive isn’t exactly correct. They are like Trader Joe’s, some of their stuff is expensive, but if you’re frugal, there are a lot of very good deals to be had. If I were on foodstamps, I would probably buy quite a lot of my food at Whole Foods, both for the sake of my health and my budget.



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Jennifer

posted March 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm


Just wanted to throw in my two cents. I’m ON food stamps with my five children. I HAD a great job working for the Federal Gov’t until I began having seizures. I am currently not employable. So, I take the $500 I get in food stamps and cut coupons and shop to get the best deals on the best foods for my family. I DO shop at Whole Foods sometimes. I can’t buy healthy bulk cereal (granola) at Aldi’s. I can’t buy bulk nutritional yeast at Aldi’s. I can’t buy bulk steel-cut oats at Aldi’s. I selectively shop the produce at Whole Foods… If it’s on sale pretty cheap, I may buy it. I usually buy my soy milk at Whole Foods, too, because they carry the unsweetened and light versions that the grocery store doesn’t. I also buy my protein powder at Whole Foods because it’s cheaper there. Yes, protein powder is a necessity for me. I am missing half my stomach (cancer) and must eat very high protein meals to get enough.

Now, having said why I shop at Whole Foods, let me also say that I sometimes buy steaks at the regular grocery store. Can you imagine never eating steak again because you’re poor? So, for a month we may have crockpot lasagna and Mac and cheese or some other casserole, just so we save enough money to “celebrate” and cook steaks out on the grill. My kids deserve it. Is that a sense of entitlement? Since when is eating healthy food an entitlement?

I will continue to shop where I want to shop and seek out the best deals I can. I still run out of money by the end of the month and we end up living off the pantry for the last week. But my kids eat healthy foods (no caffeine and no pop) and are all happy teenagers, now. Please remember that the person with food stamps buying crab legs may be doing this because their son is turning 18 tomorrow and there is no money for a gift… Or their daughter got accepted to college and no other family member has ever gone. Poor people are still human. We still wish to celebrate life, but often cant afford to do so in a conventional way.

Sorry for the rambling. Thanks for listening. :)



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College mommy

posted March 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm


Just like Joe said, no matter how many legitimate food stamp users are out there, there are always going to be those poverty BIGOTS.
For the jerk Sukie who thinks people who go to college shouldn’t be eligible for food stamps, would you suggest we drop out and then maybe we could be on food stamps and government aid FOREVER?? I’m not following your line of thinking, really. College is the only way for us to get out of the situation we are in! Or perhaps you’d suggest the government look the other way and let our young daughter starve? Get a life and grow a heart while you’re at it. I don’t know what you think they are giving us while we go to college, but my husband and I both attend college, and our grants and loans have NEVER been enough to support us. It BARELY pays our tuition & books and may leave us a tiny amount for rent, if that. My husband is a dislocated worker, formerly a carpenter, who used to work full time AND go to college…back then he barely made enough… but he got laid off because now, in this economy, no one wants to build a new home or renovate theirs. I lost my job serving when I was pregnant and have been unable to get a new job although I have been searching for months and months, because with his new line of work, he can only work weekends because that is the only time it’s open, and I have to watch our small daughter. There are no daycares open weekends, and no one wants to hire me yet since I am unavailable weekends. I will be lucky to find even something part time, and even then, we will probably have to find part time child care, so we will be back at square one. We live hand to mouth and are still struggling. But guess what? Someday soon, when we graduate, he will be an engineer and I a physician assistant… we will SURELY pay it back in taxes ten times over. And when I do, I will be HAPPY to be providing aid to someone who may be in the same situation as us, or another even more difficult. And one day I may even be providing health care to a bunch of you pompous bigots!!!
Our food stamps not only provide us food so that we can still pay our rent and survive through another week in college so someday very soon we can be valuable contributors to society… but we also buy our daughter’s formula with it, not to mention the food that provides nutrition for me to breastfeed the rest of the time. And very soon, in a month or so, when she is eating solids, who are you to tell me that if I want to feed her food that isn’t pumped up with hormones or blanketed in pesticides, that I can’t? No one said anyone in the article is shopping at Whole Foods ALL the time, but WHY should you care either way?! It’s not your business no matter what. Maybe I don’t want our kid to have breasts, get her period, and be overweight by the fifth grade, like some people I know who grew up eating unhealthy starchy prepared foods? Perhaps I want to prepare for her organic pesticide-free fruits & veggies, whole grains, and organic hormone-free eggs, dairy, and meats; and begin for her (hopefully) a lifetime tradition of caring about what goes in her body AND how these foods may have affected this earth. I not only care about this earth but what goes in my kid’s body as well, WHETHER OR NOT we are poor. No one is pretending you can’t get organics at the corner super market either, but at ours, the selection is TWO AISLES and the vegetables are often not very fresh at all.
And as Jennifer said, remember we are still human… we deserve to have good food sometimes too, and we deserve to have CHOICES. Also, she makes a good point, sometimes the only way we can celebrate an occasion is with a dinner because we don’t have money to buy each other nice gifts. This is how we celebrated our Valentines, and perhaps even my birthday.
Find something better to do with your time than caring about where people on food stamps shop and whether they are in college or not. Better yet, learn to be human yourself… Be happy that the ones who ARE in college will be OFF the food stamps someday. Be happy that someone’s child is receiving great wholesome nutrition, or even getting formula just to SURVIVE. Be happy that a poor person gets to sit down with their family and have a nice dinner and forget about their troubles and celebrate something for just ONE NIGHT once in a while. Be happy that they have ONE less thing to worry about while they try and get back on their feet and out of their situation, college or not.



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David

posted April 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm


I just read all of these comments, and was a bit sickened by the number of times I saw recipients of food stamps use the word “deserve” in their comments. As in, “I sometimes buy steak because my kids ‘deserve’ it”, and “We ‘deserve’ to have good food and we ‘deserve’ to have choices.”

When did so many Americans come to have such an entitlement mentality?

As for Whole Foods, I say let’s adopt a labeling system so that people on food stamps can shop wherever they want, but cannot buy certain items that are deemed to be unreasonably expensive or particularly unhealthy. The way I see it, if your fellow citizens are feeding you, those citizens have every damn right to put some reasonable restrictions on certain items that would help to stem rampant abuse within the food stamp system. But no, we can’t have that, right? It infringes on peoples’ “rights” to do whatever they want with other peoples money. I used to be a liberal, but I swear it really is true…as I get older, I have less and less tolerance for people who think that the rest of society owes them a living.



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jersey

posted April 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm


Jo Bob? Doesn’t sound like you’ve gotten over your prejudice for the poor yet. @ David, as a recipient and a relatively healthy eater, I see no problem buying a $5.oo steak once in a while, food prices all around are pretty high, staples are often more expensive than junk food. Personally I try to eat healthy and includes protein, thank you, and vegetables, cheese and milk. We may not “deserve” to eat a $36.00 steak at a restaurant but we sure as hell deserve the right to eat healthy.



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Beth

posted May 19, 2011 at 6:52 am


I am astonished of all the comments made here by fellow non food stamp users.Can you stop and think what it is like to have to go on food stamps, Were not on it because we want be. We have food stamps because we need it. Weather it is because we have jobs that do not pay us enough to survive or because we are disabled. You have no right to judge. Put yourself in that position. All of a sudden you can no longer work and have to go on food stamps would you stop eating healthy because society thinks you are now poor so this equals eating junk. I don’t get how the two go together in the first place, poor people should and need to take care of they’re bodies as well. would it be better if they were buying ice cream and potato chips in they’re local grocery store?. I have heard worse stories of people selling they’re food stamps for money to do drugs or drink. For those that have never been on food stamps count your lucky stars and don’t sit there and stick your noses in the air as if you know what it is like. Pray we get out of the situations we are in and find ways to survive.



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hollywoods

posted June 2, 2011 at 8:04 am


Gossip is not really my thing but i do need to comment on this dispute although it happens foodstamps are not for the lazy man that can’t get up off the couch to earn his keep,it’s for families that are having troubles,i’m a single mom and will not feed my little girl junk food,i have a severve msg allergy so my food is expensive anyways.even with foodstamps i run out of things to eat but i make shure little girl never doe’s.living expensives,the economy and a broken arm w/ a semi dissabled child make things very difficult,my daughter is #1 without foodstamps i’d have to shack up w/some loser or something.i’ve been at my job for 13 years,i’m not lazy,ugly or stupid just in trouble.



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Regan

posted June 15, 2011 at 1:08 am


I have sat and read these comments and …actually found them while i was looking for info on Whole Foods. I was wondering if they took food stamps or not . Ha ha ha ha ha , and this blog pulled up. That is funny to me. I have been a mother since I was 14 (now 32). I have always worked and been the one to take care of her (and my other 3 children.)I got laid off 2 years ago and have been on Food Stamps since then. I gained 125 pounds at my last office manager position. My sister works in a rich neighborhood and has recently discovered WF on her lunch break. She suggested (since I am trying to eat healthy and get thin) how nice it would be to be able to shop there for a while to get me started,…but she was just SURE that they didn’t accept food stamps. I have alot of health problems due to being overweight , and although I rarely get to sit down due to taking care of my family 24/7, losing weight has been a struggle. I have to laugh at the fact that this is even a subject for people to blog about…for those who have judged or had their “opinions” about us “lazy moochers” that dare to shop @ Whole Foods ….God says DO NOT JUDGE…so ya never know when YOU might have to be on foodies :)……. and I, God’s child says PUH-LEEEZE!!!!! There are way to many more serious things to get upset about. SO GET OVER IT AND GO EAT YOUR RAMEN NOODLES ;)



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Regan

posted June 15, 2011 at 1:16 am


NATURAL MOM…..it IS based on your debt as to how much food stamps you receive..just sayin



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bailey

posted June 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm


I am actually angry at some of these ppl who make judgmental comments. I work my ass off and still have to be on food stamps. I will not feed my children crap food just because some of you don’t approve of my shopping habits. We shop at whole foods because my 3 kids and I all have celiac disease and cannot eat gluten. Whole foods is a lot cheaper for this than any other store I found. So I’m sorry but my family ending up in the hospital for eating the cheap stuff that you have given the ok for “people like us” to eat, is not gonna happen. They take just as many taxes out of my check as they do yours. I just wish that each and every person that is so cruel and heartless would lose everything in their lives, have to start over and then get to listen to a bunch of people on their soap boxes telling them what losers they are and how they don’t deserve to eat right. This is life, go sit on your pedestals somewhere else.



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pissedoffamerican

posted June 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm


if you are such a “foodie” then get your ass up and work at a restaurant as a cook and stop sucking off my paycheck!



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mary ann

posted June 29, 2011 at 10:26 am


I WOULD LIKE TO ADD MY POINT OF VIEW IN HERE:
I AM A CANCER PATIENT AGE 53 AND I HAVE WENT THROUGH CHEMO, 2 SURGERIES AND NOW RADIATION AND MY ONCOLOGIST TOLD ME NOT TO WORK SINCE APRIL 27TH WHEN I HAD MY FIRST SURGERY. I AM NOT SUPPOSED TO GO BACK TO WORK TILL NOVEMBER. SINCE I HAVE NO INCOME AT ALL, I HAVE SURVIVED ON MY SAVINGS WHICH IS GONE NOW AND MY CHURCH HAS PROVIDED ME WITH FOOD TILL NOW. NOW I HAVE MY FOODSTAMP CARD AND I DO KNOW THAT I CAN FIND SO MANY HEALTHIER CHOICES AT WHOLE FOODS VERSUS GROCERY STORE; AND WHY NOT I THINK IT WILL HELP MY HEALING TO EAT BETTER. WHO IS TO JUDGE ANYONE WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THAT PERSONS LIFE AND WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH!!! I DON’T EAT STEAK OR MAKE CRAZY SPLURGES; JUST GOOD SIMPLE HEALTHY FOOD WHICH IS OUR GODGIVEN RIGHT. PUBLIX DOES NOT CARRY DANDELION WHICH IS GOOD TO CLEAN OUT TOXINS. I ALSO HAVE NEVER SEEN CHIA OR FLAX SEEDS THERE. SO PLEASE ENLIGHTEN YOURSELVES INSTEAD OF JUDGING. THANK YOU.



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tionna

posted July 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm


Well I have a comment. I am a single mother who WORKS and receives food stamps, and have earned the right to receive food stamps and I LOVE shopping at Whole Foods with my food stamps. Me and my child eat very well, and our kitchen is well stocked with some of the finest and healthy foods. Just because I’m on food stamps does not mean I am not a foodie. You are not the only one who gets to claim that title. And for everyone who thinks they really have a hand in giving me food stamps, grow up. I have paid my dues by working and if they see fit to help me when I need it, I’m not going to let my child eat bologna and drink kool-aid like so many people on their high horse would want people on food stamps to eat. By the way, I am not poor, I have a decent job and STILL, they say I am eligible to receive aid. So lets get the whole “poor, lazy sponges” idea out of our heads.



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Tiffany

posted August 26, 2011 at 8:18 am


I for one am on food stamps. Not b/c I’m “poor” as you like to call it but b/c I suffered and illness (Lupus/Kidney failure) and got laid off of my job. So yes at this point I do qualify for food stamps and I proudly use them at Whole Foods. It’s a shame that others who qualify don’t take advantage of buying quality foods but non-the-less that’s not my issue or concern. Being a spin instructor and teaching 7 classes Mon-Fri means I NEED quality foods to keep my body running efficiently. So to Whole Foods I go WITH my food stamps every month.



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Denise

posted September 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm


Hello All,

I was used to the 100k a year salary and having everything I desired. A long story short, I lost my job due to economy, TWICE. I had 65k saved, I buckled down and cut costs immediately. After 3 years, I am flat broke. I work every job I can find. Some at a days term, some short term-never permanent. I’m asking for minimum wage; I’m doing all that I can to keep afloat and I’ve sold everything of value. The reason why I am telling you this is because I am on food stamps. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth. Every time I pull out the dreaded card, I feel sick to my stomach; I want to just run and hide. I have this feeling of, “you didn’t earn this, you don’t deserve this”. After receiving the stamps, I shopped at Wal-mart because I felt bad about going to a “privledged” store. After 5 months of shopping there, my family and I were sick, literally. I would throw up in my mouth everyday due to ulcers, my joints hurt, I always had a headache. So, I switched back to Whole foods determind to feel better, although I still felt bad about going there… I still feel bad about going there. The week before I shop, I search out coupons and plan my whole shopping trip. I always buy what’s on sale, always the “365″ brand except when a sale is of better value. I have a family of 4 to feed. The day of shopping, I bring my used paper bags so I can get 12 cents off per each reused bag. I get $600.00 in groceries but knock it down to tax payers paying $300.00, the amount I get per month to feed us. I understand where people are coming from. However, I am extremely careful of the choices I make. If everyone would be, then everyone could shop at Whole Foods. It is unfortunate that we as a society have made the poor, such as myself, feel like they deserve seconds and thirds. They deserve food “that will make them sick so they can die off sooner”…yes, this is a comment I read on another website.You see, I am a productive citizen and I am a good person. Just because I am on food stamps doesn’t make me less of a person. Just because I am on food stamps doesn’t mean that I deserve secondary food. Thank you to all that have acknowledged our need for quality food. May God bless you for the insight you’ve shared with the community.



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M. Mason

posted October 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm


I’m a single mother on food stamps in Arizona. I used to have a good job, but I lost my job during my pregnancy. The military father of my cold kicked me out for refusing an abortion. Choosing to keep my son left me in a, homeless shelter with nothing more than food assistance and a very ugly lable: “POOR.” I shop at Whole Foods becauae I don’t want to waste the tx dollars I still paid when I was homeless on crappy food. My son deserves the freshest produce. Should he suffer because his father, a represrntative of the United States Navy, doesn’t feel like helping? I used to thumb my noise at the disadvantaged. Now I am one. Perhaps a walk in my slightly used donated shoes will put this sort of predjudice into comparison. Or perhaps not. Either way I am truly grateful that I am not reduced to force feeding my son foods full of arteficial sugars and preservatives. Becauae he deserves brain foos a chance to reach his potential.



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John Charles

posted October 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm


This is addressed to whoever holds the belief that those on food stamps should have no right to purchase certain foods and especially those who are against them eating health foods:

Ok, you really need to come out of the cloud of superiority your riding in.

Every child has a right to eat something healthy and nutritious. This isn’t self entitlement, this is basic human morality.

If food stamps are going to be there for the underprivileged, why on earth would you care that they use it for healthy foods? Really! So, you are saying that the poor should munch on delicacies of hotdogs, luncheon meats, and GMO foods at their local Walmart, that come replete with degenerative health issues thereby causing the tax payers much more money in ridiculous exorbitant healthcare costs?
I realize that some of you are saying that they shouldn’t be allowed to eat things unreasonably unhealthy, but you contradict yourself when you say they can’t buy foods that are expensive. A lot of healthy foods are expensive. Not everyone can adopt the Vegan lifestyle and live healthily on that.

Who decides what is expensive and what diet I follow? Let me guess, it’s you! You who sit there all high upon your horse cause the economy hasn’t touched you yet. You get to decide whether my child who is allergic and or sensitive to a lot of unhealthy foods and requires a certain amount of chicken or red meat in a day just to maintain their health, you get to decide their diet? Really, so I as a parent and as one who paid taxes into this system my entire life who came upon unfortunate circumstances can’t make those choices for my own child because you sit there in judgement of me at the grocery store assuming the expensive foods I purchase are just me being frivolous with tax payers funds?
Really? What a mark of ignorance you really show with your snooty, and obviously biased comments.

There is NO one size fits all diet for American families.

There are 300 million Americans with all very different beliefs as well as health issues, so whose beliefs dictate what that family eats? There are many people with food issues on food stamps, through no fault of their own, who need to buy “expensive” foods so that they avoid certain health issues. Believe it or not there are people out there that can only eat meat and cheese because of certain health issues. I know this because I was one of those people. And sometimes my health takes such a backwards turn that I have to adopt that diet again.

There are people out there that are allergic to supermarket meats because of all of the crap they feed the cattle. I know this because my mother-in-law and sister have this problem and can only eat grass-fed organic meats to avoid health issues.

There are people with dairy issues and really can only drink raw, grass fed, milk and cheeses. Seriously, this is just a very small list. What people need to do is realize we have a ridiculously high amount of unemployment of American people who are educated and were completely self sufficient, WITHOUT large amounts of debt, that are finding themselves unable to get hired at the likes of Target. Through no other reason than their were layoffs and they find themselves unemployed and unable to be rehired!
I know because my husband is one of those unlucky numbers.

These people are finding themselves on government assistance through no faults of their own, and aren’t lazy, government leeches looking to take advantage of you poor tax payers.

A lot of them have been dutiful taxpayers their entire adult lives, and have been careful not to go crazy with debt and are still being tread under foot in this impossible economic situation. Not everyone is broke right now cause they are some G-money street hood who believes that because their ancestors hundreds of years ago went through something, that they are entitled to not work and leech off of society. This is a ridiculous stereotype that unfortunately gets thrown at any poor person using food stamps.
Is it really that you are that ignorant of your own Media Stations that are reporting the ridiculously high unemployment rates and realizing this isn’t stemming from anything other than job lay offs for the majority?

Something beyond their control! And people aren’t hiring! Especially if you are college educated cause you will dash out on them as soon as something more lucrative comes your way!

More government control is not what we need right now. It’s really a big part of the problem to be honest. While, yes, there are people who are lazy and think they are owed something and just leech, there are many many more, dare I say, the majority who are welfare due to poor health issues and/or the unemployment crisis we are finding ourselves in. Really, think about this the next time you assume you know what’s going on in a person’s life when you see them spending food stamps in the grocery line. And don’t assume you know everything or you may find yourself with a health issue that needs a certain diet to help control it, or unemployed and wish you hadn’t have opened your uneducated mouth in the first place



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John Charles

posted October 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm


I’d like to add that maybe there is a solution for some of those who are not disabled, yet find themselves on government assistance. Teach them how to grow their own foods. Not everyone will have the ability to do this, health issues and where you live obviously comes into play here. But, for anyone that has a yard, learn to grow your own organic foods. And for those who have some acreage, and live out in the country purchase your own livestock and live off of them.

It should be within any socially conscious person to always strive to maintain financial independence. Let’s go back to growing our own organic foods, and raising our own chickens and livestock if circumstances permit. Why not instead of handing out food stamps the government handed out organic seeds and classes on organic farming as well as monies or vouchers to purchase live stock for those whose circumstances permit it? This would keep you from being dependent upon the government long-term. Or, instead of looking to the government at all, why not we the people? We band together and pool our own resources and funds to help those in need so that they can maintain financial independence. j
We supply the seeds, the live stock, hens and roosters, and maybe even donate property where several families could share the property and work together to produce their own food? We would see a rise in self sufficiency, less dependance on tax payer funds, and the benefits go on from there.



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Annie

posted October 2, 2011 at 6:48 pm


To CollegeMommy: What you posted is the truth and amazing. I don’t think anyone could have worded it better! I concur, here here:)



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Annie

posted October 2, 2011 at 7:13 pm


To Jennifer and the other’s here who say those on government assistance should not be found dead perusing the aisles of Whole Foods:

People on goverment assistance are given that assistance based upon income and family size. When they run out of food, they don’t get back in line and get more. That’s it. They have to wait til the next month to get the same exact amount of assistance. So, it does not matter where they shop, it does not costs tax payers more money by shopping at whole foods or anywhere. Some of them are working but not making enough to make ends meet. They use their own cash coupled with government benefits to stretch their food. If they eat less quantity and more quality it costs you nothing and in fact saves you money. It saves you money because these same people will have less degenerative health issues thereby less medical expenses:)

And to the snobs who say they got by on ramen noodles for a few months and it hurt no one to do so. You are very ignorant of the fact that many people have serious health issues as John Charles pointed out. I have serious health issues where i have to eat protein and a high fat low carb diet every day or my blood glucose levels fall dangerously low. I would be dead in a coma some where if I survived on ramen noodles. I also know of someone who fed themselves on fast food because it costs a dollar, even cheaper than walmart, and they ate several pieces of non organic raw fruit a day with their fast food diet and ended up showing through blood test that they were suffering malnourishment. So you think it’s not affecting your health but you really don’t see the future damage you are doing to your body.



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Faithfulseeds

posted October 11, 2011 at 12:36 am


I really found this string very interesting. Usually when you talk about food stamps you send people into an uproar. My family (married with 5 Children) has just relocated to the DFW area due to the recession. After being laid off in 2008 my husband was unable to find adequate work for us in PA and, as a stay at home mother, there was only so much that a temp job would do for us. We went from a brand new home in 2008 to currently living in an extended stay hotel (1 room!)while in transition. We went from darn near 6 figures in our early 20′s to a 5th of that in 2010. I remember deeply the summer of 2009 eating jelly sandwiches and not much else because it is all we could do to really survive. The kids got peanut butter occasionally and cereal and milk. We watered down the powdered drinks til they had barely any flavor to try and give them something recognizable without too much sugar. We were the hidden poor…too ashamed to use assistance because of the stigma. We looked great but were truly doing horribly. I dropped numerous dress sizes and my husband’s waist line deteriorated. (maybe a good thing? lol) However when we made the move from PA to TX we decided to drop the pride apply for food stamps. I will be totally transparent and say that we get 1051.00 a month. That is 262.75 a week, 37.54 a day, 12.51 a meal (sans the kids snacks), 1.79 per person per meal. Food stamps has blessed our life tremendously (clearly God’s grace) as we move forward and repair that which was not 100% in our control (some better choices? sure…but job shortages are blatant factors) but I wanted to debunk the myth that food stamps are a cash cow. So we have had food stamps for about 2 months and I will say I love being able to shop at places that will give my family nutrition and not junk! Yes I buy fish and fruit and granola. Thank you Lord! It is liberating to know that for about the next 6 months while we live below our means and dig out of the hole that there is a little bit of safety net. What we need to be grieved about is not food stamps, it’s the stories behind it. If you had ever asked me if I would use EBT I would have fiercely denied it, now I realize that without it we could be in serious trouble. And perhaps if we get rid of the myths and stigmas we can actually address some of those who do abuse the system and not just accuse everyone without understanding. Great discussion all…just thought I’d add my 2 cents :)



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Darel

posted October 13, 2011 at 6:49 am


I am a graduate student, teach 2 courses and am working on my Ph.D. My plan is to teach youngsters so they can contribute to society. At the moment, me, my wife, and 3 year old son are on food stamps, getting about $600/mo. Before that we were barely surviving on rice, beans, and peanut butter sandwiches, often without enough money for milk. Juice was a rare treat.

It’s been nice to be able to eat healthier, although I must say the benefits might be excessive, you have to be creative to be able to spend the amount they give you when you’re used to such a tight budget.

We too are shopping at Whole Foods and getting local, organic foods, but we’re probably going to be healthier for it as long as we don’t eat a pound of Brie every day.



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Vegan Hipster on Foodstamps At Your Service!

posted November 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm


I’m a healthy food eating vegan on food stamps. Health food stores like Whole Foods and others, contrary to popular belief, are not always more expensive than regular stores, it depends on what you buy.

I have to budget myself so I buy some food at ultra cheap stores that were created for the poor, like Aldi, and I buy some food, mostly my staple greens and legumes and quinoa at places like health food stores because health matters to me.

I do not have health insurance and so cannot gorge myself on junk food, either the cheap or expensive kind, and count on doctors to cure me of diabetes and colon cancer.



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ABrooklynSound

posted November 10, 2011 at 8:43 am


I agree, it doesn’t matter where people choose to use their food stamps. we should be happy that they are choosing healthy options opposed to crap!
Personally I feel that the way things are and the amount of people on food stamps they should be accepted everywhere.
allowing everyone to have access to the same quality of food.



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Kirsten Meyer

posted November 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm


I am a professional (but severely underemployed) working mother on a budget who shops occasionally at Whole Foods. Actually, I shop mostly at Pathmark, which is the local low-price leader but which carries inexcusably poor quality produce. I supplement that with additional shopping at Stop & Shop, Best Yet, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods, all of which I choose primarily for their selection of produce and organic items. As SUPPLEMENTAL (not primary) shopping destinations, it is possible to get excellent value for your money at these stores while using coupons and taking advantage of their weekly specials. Whole Foods does carry value brands as well as high-end brands, and they also allow you to double up on store coupons and manufacturer coupons. I understand the perception of Whole Foods as upscale grocery shopping, but its not necessarily that, depending upon one’s shopping practices. I do not myself have food stamps, but if I did, I would absolutely make them stretch as far as possible to provide the maximum nutritional value to my family, which includes items not available at my average neighborhood grocery store. I think any smart, responsible person would do the same (and that, by the way, includes many working and disabled people who ARE on food stamps). Spend that $5 on fresh produce, or twinkies, processed food, and junk food???? The latter choice (the easier, and more typical choice) will end up costing the individual, the government, and “the taxpayers” much more in the long run, in terms of health care.



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Lena

posted December 8, 2011 at 10:48 pm


I don’t know if my comment is a little off subject, but I have food stamps. Last year I became pregnant and then my husband was laid off and now does manual labor (on-call), my car broke down and commuting to work via public transportation at 6 months pregnant was very tiring. I ultimately lost my job. There were days when my husband and I were so broke, we would eat one small meal a day. I was too proud and embarrassed to seek government assistance. We stopped paying our phone and cable bill and cut out everything we could before I ultimately applied for WIC and Food stamps. From my 6th to 7th month of pregnancy I was probably taking in 500 calories a day due to our situation. Although I am ashamed when I use the card, I honestly have no other choice. We were extremely hungry. I can understand why people would be pissed about their tax dollars and what not..I know I have passed judgement prior to my own experience, but I have to say – if you ever find yourself in a bad situation, you will be happy that their is help. I know I am.



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JudgementFree

posted December 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm


Nothing wrong with food stamps. Unemployed people get it too. It’s not just for people who want to “use your tax dollars for a fancy meal”.



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dont judge

posted January 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm


I commend you on admitting your prejudice. I experience this all the time. I work a full time job, I am a student and a single mom. These food stamps help supplement my income. I qualify because of my income. I am not scamming anyone. But I do feel the stares and looks. I am free to purchase what I want and I also dont receive enough to do all my grocery shopping but it definitely helps me. Just because a person is poor doesnt mean that they are trash and should be looked down on. I am a productive person in society.



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...

posted January 15, 2012 at 10:00 am


Who is anyone to judge someone on food stamps shopping at Whole Foods? I’m sorry if I want to buy healthier food for my daughter. I do my primary shopping at Walmart, but purchase my meats and veggies at Publix. It just works out that way. I also budget well and go for any sales I can. I make my food stamps last and if I want to go to Whole Foods to find some healthier food for my growing toddler, then that is my choice. I don’t think people should waste their food stamps, but there are rules set for what you can and cannot buy so don’t blame the people shopping at Whole Foods, blame the government for allowing them to. I mean, just because someone has food assistance, does not mean they are trash.



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ann

posted January 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm


That’s and extreme example. As a fully employed mother of 2 who is on the food stamp program because minimum wage doesn’t support a family, I also shop at whole foods. I believe that even poor children deserve to eat organic, whole grain healthy food, not filled with poison. I buy the produce that is on sale or cheaper because it’s in season, and I buy 365 brand items which are usually about the same price as conventional items at other store. I’m not buying any gourmet foods, like rabbit. I do think very expensive gourmet foods, should not be able to be purchased with food stamps. I also think that things like chips, soda pop, ice cream ect.. should not be able to be purchased with food stamps.



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marie

posted January 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm


My daughter is on a gluten free diet, I work and get stamps I go to whole foods because of her allergies and the diet she is on



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Cynthia160

posted February 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm


I don’t know if I want to advertise this for fear that a run on certain items at Whole Foods will increase the price, but here goes. Some foods are cheaper at Whole Foods than ShopRite. A gallon of regular whole milk at ShopRite costs from $3.69 to $3.89, but a gallon of whole milk from cows not treated with rBGH hormones from whole Foods is only $3.49. Not only is the milk cheaper, it’s much better for you. A quart of plain organic yogurt costs $2.99 at Whole Foods, the same as the plain yogurt made from hormone-treated cows that you get from ShopRite. Whole Foods also has super reasonable prices for organic apples, grapefruit, spinach, tangerines, and nuts. Their non-organic frozen vegetables tend to be cheaper than at the regular supermarket. So that mom that you may see using her food stamps at Whole Foods may have discovered what a lot of us already know. If you’re selective, Whole Foods doesn’t have to mean Whole Paycheck.



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Heather

posted February 6, 2012 at 9:56 am


Just to start I am a mother of two, and my family receives food stamps. I however, am not ashamed of this because my family does not take advantage of the help we receive. My husband work 50-60 hours a week of back breaking work to try and provide for our family not because we are stupid or uneducated but because that’s what’s available. I do shop at whole foods for things and I don’t think it is anyone’s business how or why, but just to tell you what I buy it is fresh fruit and veggies for my family. I think my family deserves to have that, although a lot of people think otherwise, solely because we receive food stamps I believe that’s ignorant. My children are leaning how to eat healthy and to know the importance of what you put in your body. Maybe some of the people here should remember that only someone that is perfect is truly able to judge someone else. This is just food for thought maybe some of you dont understand that people with foods stamps are not all lazy unemployed people who want to mooch off your tax dollars most of us pay taxes too!



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Milly

posted February 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm


We are a hard working family, and we have income but we are not making enough money so we did qualify for food stamps.Also struggling families are concerned about healthy food.



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david webber

posted February 21, 2012 at 3:36 pm


I AM TIRED OF HEARING PEOPLE SAY THAT I AM USING THEIR MONEY FROM TAXES TO BUY MY FOOD WITH FOOD STAMPS. BEFORE I LOST MY JOB LAST YEAR ALONE I PAID 20000 IN FED TAXES SO I HAVE PAID IN AND NOW THAT I AM STRUGGLING AS A SINGLE FATHER I AM CASHING IN ON BENEFITS UNTIL I GET BACK ON MY FEET WHEN I WILL BEGIN TO PAY INTO SYSTEM AGAIN. I UNDERSTAND BEING ANGRY AT PEOPLE WHO DON’T DO SHIT THOUGH OR NEVER PAY TAXES. I WOULD RATHER BUY. LESS HEALTHY FOOD FOR MY SON THAN A LOT OF JUNK.



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Jeanne

posted March 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm


What many people who judge those on public assistance don’t know or realize is that when working, those same people have paid in to help those more unfortunate than them. I worked for 24 1/2 years for one company when my job was eliminated. I’m now 60 years old and cannot find anyone to hire me. So I’m now using food stamps. I don’t feel bad about it because I was helping others through my taxes all those years. That is what the system is set up for. Of course, we do have people that abuse the system but really shouldn’t judge everyone based on those examples. Similarly, when I was younger my husband divorced me and I had two young children. I got a job and was working but could not make ends meet. So I took residence in a low-income apartment complex. I really did not like living there but I was grateful just the same for the help I received from the government, but there were those who judged me along with the deadbeats because I was taking public assistance. But I was paying into the system at the same time with my taxes so I didn’t feel badly since I did the best I could with what I had at the time. Being in those circumstances gave me a more understanding attitude towards others. By the way, for my health issues I need to eat certain foods which I can only find at Whole Foods. Judge not that you be not judged is good advice!



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jwl

posted March 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm


I would challenge you to remember that not everyone receiving food stamps is a “hipster” or is trying to get something for nothing. My family is currently receiving food stamps. Why? Because, after my husband and myself working for the last 15 years of our marriage, my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year. I am his full-time caregiver. So, should my family only be allowed to eat cheap, unhealthy, processed foods (most of which feed cancer as well)? I don’t think so. My tax dollars for years helped support others. The issue is giving these benefits to people that NEED them, not those trying to abuse them. Feeding your family healthy food shouldn’t be something that only wealthy people are granted as a “right” based on their wealth.



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Patricia McConnell

posted April 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm


Have you ever thought about people in need that have a food allergy? I happen to have a gluten allergy and most of my specialized foods can only be purchased at Whole Foods! Not to mention, my husband is currently unemployed and we are on food stamps! Sorry to rain on your parade of what type of people are allowed to shop at Whole Foods in regards to their poverty level.



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TMB

posted April 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm


I’m on food stamps currently we never use to be and we always ate junk as cheap as I could get it and we are now significantly overweight with health issues, surprise, surprise. We also have children our whole families are significantly overweight so it’s a trend that needs to be dealt with. I also have celiac’s disease so no gluten for me and it’s not a trend. I’m too scared to go to Whole Foods I got to Albertson’s and get snobbed as soon as I pull out my food stamp card I can’t imagine doing it at some place like Whole Food’s haven’t even been in one to say if it’s insanely expensive or not. If I keep eating junk I’m going to die no doubt diabetes, congestive heart failure, strokes heart attacks it all runs in the family. Since losing our jobs even with a 2 college educations we are trying to pull ourselves out of this canyon we’ve been put into but this feeling that if your poor your comparable to a cockroach is pretty depressing. I’m online looking where to buy grass fed beef you can apparently get this at whole foods and so I find this article. Seems to me having people like me go buy local grass fed beef is just a smart thing to do as it adds to the local economy, it’s possible it’s healthier if I’m healthier it benefits society, and food stamps doesn’t work the way people think I get $300 for a family of 4 I can go to Walmart and buy ramen but I don’t I coupon like crazy and get what’s on sale I can’t eat ramen anyway, just wish I could make healthier choices for my family without judgement.



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andI'mLiberal

posted April 18, 2012 at 8:50 am


I work at a Wholefoods in Atlanta and let me tell you, there are no nice hipsters with food-stamps coming in to the Briarcliff location. The people with food-stamps are also the rudest and most obnoxious customers. Seriously, you’re getting free money to shop here, get over your stupid attitude!
-One girl who can’t be older than 23 comes in three times a day, never knows the balance in her ebt card and ends up holding the line back with a bunch of returns. Seriously, get a job you lazy slob. And yes, your foodstamp money will last longer at a regular grocery store- that’s the truth.
-If you’re on foodstamps and you don’t work or work 10 hours a week and you’re completely healthy YOU SUCK! YOU ARE A LEECH!



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your conscious

posted April 19, 2012 at 12:31 am


Great article.. What’s important to remember is that people on food stamps would rather not be on food stamps. The amount of money a person receives is not enough to properly feed them for more than a week let alone a month.
A person that eats at Whole Foods may be thought of as hipster by another who lacks proper knowledge about adulterated foods. The educated food critic is not a person who chooses their foods by its price, but rather the value of its content.
The under educated food critic which accounts for 75% of the Adult US population consumes so called foods mostly of which are unwise to eat.
So Where does a human gather the right to qualify his quantitative food knowledge based on his eating experience allow himself to dictate what another eats?
To the point what right do you have to tell someone who is using food stamps.. what kinds of foods they should eat?
Are they.. the food stamp people your personal property? Do you really feed them?
Should they eat poisons and GMO’s because they are on food stamps.. when most of the public eats GMO’s because they are stupid..
There is no way.. that a person who understands what has been done to our foods would ever make an ignorant statement about not killing oneself.. as being WHOLE FOOD HIPSTERS..

the person who makes those kinds of statements has either gotten to the game in the fourth quarter and don’t know the score.. and then like our foods want to please themselves to the ears of the illiterate.. and yes if you are eating processed foods you might as well be illiterate.. cause you will be faced with the outcome of eating those kinds of foods.. so Why should the person who has taken out the time to educate themselves eat garbage.

it’s as simple as this..The type of person who is offended by another eating health is just plainly evil.. Why else would you find a subject to find fault with a human who is bettering themselves?

not to mention those types of people who call a person a Hipster because they eat at Whole Foods.. well Idiots… eating at Whole Foods is not a Hipster thing too do.
A person who eats like crap.. has never had to change his or her life. cause they are too addicted by their food masters.. who own and control you and your thoughts.. by what they put into your foods..
nope not you . you have a good home and mommy and daddy paid for everthing in your life.. college… vacations… and the local news told you when and how and where.. and Santa came to see you when you were a small child..

even worse. are those. who are educated by way of learning to accept and believe that what they learn is the only way..

you know the know it all idiot doctors.. which doesn’t include the non no it all doctors.. for those who can’t read…

be happy a person on welfare or what ever its called particular to it region..
is making a healthy choice..

In fact you stupid Americans.. pop drinking morons..

are just insane.. just the way the masters like you .

take a look at the real reasons you are misled. its so the corrupt.. Summers

Kissinger.. Obama.. Bernanke.. Rockfeller..

and all the One World Order Eugenicist– who make you dumb so that you act like infant children.. and this way you are easy target to be their slaves..

but nope you want to have a debate about someone who eats proper healthy unadulterated foods and even like the infant children that you are .. call these people a name.. call them Hipsters…

so when you are dying from cancer and crapping your pants and your wife or husband has left you… ask god… why he didn’t tell you to eat his foods..

and he will reply that he did .. and you called him Hipster.. or a Heretic… or a endless… solution.. to your line of thinking and will forever separate you from the true human you are supposed to be..
so become that person and lead those to foods that are on this planet.. to nourish your body.. not make you sterile and ignorant ..



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Lindsey

posted May 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm


It is better food and I guess people on assistance should not get to eat healthy? Maybe if they eat crap then they will live shorter lives and the others can sleep at night. FYI many people on assistance are taxpayers in fact unless you are disabled you are required to work. If you do not have a job you must do community service to equal the money you receive until you are employed. You are working for your benefits so what is the problem?



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LeaTea

posted July 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm


You have to be extremely ignorant to even write this? You are prime example of what is wrong with society. Always judging and don’t really no sh*t. SO what if people are on assistance, they obviously need it. What the hell the eat is no one’s business. If they eat good, then so be it. Im on food stamps and I dont give a damn what people think about me eating. I was recently told I have gastritis and its a pain.. you think I’m going to eat chocolates, chips, pork and all sorts of bad food to upset and possible cause ulcers just because you might look at me shopping & eating the right foods? Ha.. please



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Allison

posted July 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm


These comments are crap. If you are receiving Food Stanps, no, you are NOT paying taxes! Yes, they might take out taxes from your paycheck, but then you get a big fat refund check and don’t end up spending a dime! Shopping at Whole Foods with food stamps pisses me off because I myself cannot afford to shop there. I work hard, have a college degree, and I have to eat regular food. But MY TAXES, MY MONEY (I either get no refund or end up paying MORE) is going to you so YOU can eat somewhere that I can’t afford myself?! That is why I am angry. People on GA act so entitled. Just be grateful the government is giving you any assistance at all! And thank people like me, who keep you from starving, instead of whining that you can’t find organic, grass -fed Kobe beef at your regular supermarket!



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Ashlee

posted July 22, 2013 at 3:22 am


Ignorant..yes to say the least. People who get assistance work and pay taxes, just like all you people complaining. Some just have different(harder) situations, than others. How about not spending $100 on a purse or shoes and then you would be able to shop at whole foods. Not to mention its not your business what people do with what is theirs, but go ahead and keep wasting your time and energy being upset, while they are enjoying their lives and their nutritious food.



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Erica

posted August 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm


It’s these prejudice notions that make people like me embarrassed to have food stamps! I am a married college student to a fellow college student and we have a son together, both working full time, and we are expecting baby #2 in feb 2014! I do not do all my shopping at whole foods, but there are some healthy options there that I just can’t find in local stores or target/Walmart. When I go I’ve always payed with my own cash because of people negative notions towards people using food stamps and personally I think it’s childish of people! I’m not another number in the system an I should not have to feel embarrassed about my having food stamps to supplement the food in our house. We can’t all start out on top, but today for the first time I will walk in to whole foods head high, and purchase the items I get with my food stamps because I will not be made to feel inferior for using government assistance, because my time will come to assist those and I will be less bitter about it!



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