money money money

It started with rolling eyes that a family decided to go through the 15 items or less line with a big cart while I had two items. Who doesn’t get that feeling that you just want to get through the ‘quick’ line. They met the criteria by spreading the purchases 15 items at a time over each family member. What progressed next is something that sits with disquiet inside of me from different angles and for different reasons.

These items were bought using EBT cards. I have nothing negative to say about the intent. At one point in life I was on medicaid when I was making enough. I chose not to apply for the food stamps but that was based on my economics as I felt I had enough to buy what I needed and didn’t need the extra. The health insurance was more than enough to help me at the time until I was making enough to get off medicaid.

But tonight I had that glimpse into the concerns of state and federal officials around the country that are trying to limit the types of purchases that are made. When I did some cursory web research into the food stamp/EBT program, the initial reasons for the program are not where we are at now in a direct manor. Part of the food stamps were for surplus foods. As the government does heavily subsidize farms, an argument could be made that all that corn and the things that are made from it like corn chips and fructose corn syrup could be surplus items and go right along with the idea of being bought as surplus food.

The problem I had tonight was more social in nature. One of the women appeared to call someone to get the pin that she couldn’t remember as it locks out after three wrong attempts. As well about 3 out of 4 of the items appeared to be what people would classically define as junk food. More than that were the two overweight preteen girls which nice smiles that would be even better if wasn’t for all the caps on the their teeth, presumably from a history of cavities. It was for this that I could see why there are those out there wanting the public funds spent on quality food. It does become an elitist idea though that the junk food and sugary sodas should be there for the rich(er) folks that can afford to eat unhealthily but actually, we probably shouldn’t have it to buy to begin with. I still don’t understand why cigarettes are even legal. I can see how it would be difficult for governments to regulate items they think are better or worse. I haven’t researched yet into seeing if there are standard definitions for things like junk food and soda. Should people have to show they are buying a certain amount of nutritious foods? Since the EBT is electronic I’d bet that the information on what is being purchased it being collected, even if anonymously. Some people’s health plan will not reward you if you have worse labs or smoke or such. Perhaps something similar here. A reduced overall amount on the EBT but you get a ‘bonus’ when you buy nutritious things? It’s complicated I get it. I am thankful that there are farmer’s markets that do take EBT cards. I wonder how many people use them there.

From a short term perspective, who cares. Let everyone just do what they want. But then why did we get rid of the trans fats or why even regulate what goes into foods if the customer is the one that gets to decide if they should have access to anything and everything they want, an argument from some that those with EBT cards should not be restricted from ANY purchases.

From the long term view, we are killing ourselves. I’m lump myself in the short term category today. While I was buying fresh fruit tonight, I can’t say the cereal with sugar I had for breakfast was a good choice. I still need to exercise more and take better care of myself. It’s a process that has its ups and downs as I slip in and out of good choices. More of the choices are better these days but it’s still a continual work in progress and one that I don’t think I can ever really relax on or I’ll slide right back down into the easier but worse choices.

I am caught in that dilemma of choices on the EBT cards but I probably would have to say that I’d sway more into the side of saying buy what you want with the public money but with restrictions. For the time being ‘luxury’ items are called that for a reason. In a similar idea, if you’re getting unemployment, should you be able to spend that money on anything you want or should it be just for ‘living’ expenses and work related. For me living is also about traveling and experiencing new things, even if it’s a trip down a local road I haven’t been down in a few years.

A head scratcher to be sure. But I can’t scratch my head too much. There isn’t that much hair left.

http://www.hsd.state.nm.us/LookingForAssistance/Food_Assistance.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Benefit_Transfer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplemental_Nutrition_Assistance_Program

http://www.gettingfoodstamps.org/faqsaboutsnap.html

https://www.ebt.acs-inc.com/

-SFA

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