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Why are food stamps accepted at gas stations?

engineer4lifeengineer4life Posts: 366Registered User Member
edited May 2012 in Parent Cafe
A gas station near my house has a big sign saying they accept food stamps. I haven't been inside much, but it appears that they sell typical gas station fare. Donuts, hot dogs, pretzels, chips, salsa, other snack food. Not sure that any is food considered healthy or what I would hope food stamps be used on.

Thoughts? Any good justification for food stamps being redeemed in the high priced yet not very healthy source of food around town?
Post edited by engineer4life on
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Replies to: Why are food stamps accepted at gas stations?

  • notrichenoughnotrichenough Posts: 5,403Registered User Senior Member
    Food is food.

    Would it be ok to purchase that stuff with food stamps in a grocery store?

    Or do you want to assume the role of food and lifestyle police, and control what people eat and drink just because they are getting assistance?

    Or maybe you'd like to control what everybody eats and drinks, after all, it's for our own good.
  • engineer4lifeengineer4life Posts: 366Registered User Member
    I think there's a big difference between Rice a Roni and Hostess Donuts for dinner. Or spagetti with meatballs as compared to chips and salsa for dinner.

    No, I do not agree that convenience store food is the same as grocery store food.

    I also think that part of the role of a government assistance program should be to teach life long skills to the recipients of the assistance that will allow to become undependent in the future. Teaching people to use their food vouchers in grocery stores rather than shopping at convenience stores would be a good step in this direction.
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Posts: 22,602Registered User Senior Member
    Donuts, hot dogs, pretzels, chips, salsa, other snack food

    Well... you can't buy most of that stuff with food stamps anyway so it's a moot point. You can't buy prepared food with food stamps. Anything you can buy at a gas station can also be bought at a grocery store. Although, I think some states have figured out a way around this.

    Also, some areas don't have grocery stores, so gas stations/party stores are all there are. My guess would be, if it's a chain, is that it's a chain policy.
  • cottonwood513cottonwood513 Posts: 1,828Registered User Member
    They probably sell milk, cheese, orange juice and bananas, too. It may be walking distance for some of your transportation challenged neighbors. Or the store hours. Same as when you buy food there for convienence.
  • Emaheevul07Emaheevul07 Posts: 5,924Registered User Senior Member
    I think this is a good question. I normally only see this in very economically depressed areas, where there often are not many grocery stores within walking distance of the subdivisions-- and we don't have public transit, so it doesn't shock me. I would guess other gas stations take EBT too but maybe don't advertise it as prominently, but I don't have EBT so I've never checked.

    It must be helpful, though, for people on EBT to be able to run in for a gallon of milk when they pump their gas just like the rest of us can. It may be as simple as that.
  • notrichenoughnotrichenough Posts: 5,403Registered User Senior Member
    Around here, some gas stations have turned into small stores that also sell gas. They have lots of other stuff besides Twinkies and cigarettes.
    Teaching people to use their food vouchers in grocery stores rather than shopping at convenience stores would be a good step in this direction.
    Have you ever lived in a poor section of a city or town?

    Access to grocery stores is a huge issue, because the store owners don't want to put stores in these areas.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Posts: 23,794Registered User Senior Member
    Are there other places to buy food in accessible locations? Generally you can buy milk and bread and other basic staples at convenience stores, can't you?
  • LakeWashingtonLakeWashington Posts: 6,561Registered User Senior Member
    Access to optimally nutritious food is a big issue nationally right now. Folks in neighborhoods underserved or abandoned by traditional supermarkets have complained about this matter for years.

    Outside of the northeast (expensive real estate), even distressed neighborhoods have gas stations slash convenience stores, including major chains.
  • eastcoascrazyeastcoascrazy Posts: 1,875Registered User Senior Member
    There was a rather vicious editorial in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago, in which the author (Warren Kozak "Food Stamps and the $41 Cake") ripped into a parent who he saw using food stamps to buy a $41 fancy cake at a local grocery store.

    Today there were two responses to that snarky editorial. Here is what those letter writers had to say:

    "The truth is Mr. Kozak knows nothing about this woman's life. The cake could be a one-time treat. The boy may not be her son. She may not drive 30 blocks for a deal because she doesn't own a car. Being poor is hard enough without Mr. Kozak's assumptions and conclusions."

    Here's another:

    "I was that little child many years ago, standing in line at the grocery store with a parent, and, at the time, ashamed of the fact my family was poor.... I felt that I was less of a person.... I arranged my travel around "taking a little extra effort" in getting to the grocery store. I walked with my brothers and sisters 1.5 miles to the store to get groceries. (My parents) taught all six of their children to stay in school, study hard and focus on education.... With the help of the food stamp program, we didn't go hungry. My parents have six college graduates. In this case government worked as it was supposed to. However to this day I recall people like Mr. Kozak standing in judgement behind me in the grocery line, stereotyping me as ignorant and looking down on me with disdain."

    Don't stand in judgement.
  • cottonwood513cottonwood513 Posts: 1,828Registered User Member
    Eastcoast, you rock!
  • bookreaderbookreader Posts: 1,197Registered User Senior Member
    My guess is that the OP did not know that some gas station convenience stores sell some healthy foods like milk and cheese and fruit. I've never been in one before, so I have no idea what they sell, but I have read on internet forums what others have bought at these stores.
  • GladGradDadGladGradDad Posts: 2,794Registered User Senior Member
    Any good justification for food stamps being redeemed in the high priced yet not very healthy source of food around town?
    I don't think there's a good justification for this. OTOH, unless you see exactly what they buy, you don't know that they purchased junk food as opposed to a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a carton of milk.

    Related - I don't understand why some people buy food items at a gas station store or a 7/11 rather than go across the street and buy the same items at the grocery store (and there's one within a block) for less money - especially if they don't have a lot of money.
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Posts: 22,602Registered User Senior Member
    Because most of the time, the grocery store isn't right across the street. If it is, then the extra few dollars might not be worth the inconvenience of going across the street.
  • momof3greatgirlsmomof3greatgirls Posts: 815Registered User Member
    I am sorry but I agree with Mr. Kozak. I don't want to give tax dollars for expensive cakes. It is ment for nutritious foods. $41 would go far to feed the family in need. $6 will get you the ingredients to make the cake or better yet you can buy one those $5 to $6 ones in the bakery case at most grocery stories. I don't buy $41 cakes except for major occasions and we are celebrating with many people. I don't expect the government to help pay for my celebrations and to feed other people.
  • klugekluge Posts: 6,559Registered User Senior Member
    I also think that part of the role of a government assistance program should be to teach life long skills to the recipients of the assistance that will allow to become undependent in the future.
    How much of your tax dollars are you interested in spending to "teach life long skills" to those folks? Because banning the use of food stamps in less economical stores is a really, really inefficient (and possibly even counter-productive) way of accomplishing that goal, and the more effective methods cost money to implement.
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