Saturday, March 28, 2015


Selling and buying EBT - SNAP  (government food benefits that used to be called Food Stamps and is also known in California as CalFresh) is not supposed to happen but it's happening.  Officially you can get into big trouble if caught.  But we get so many hits on our posts about such things, we thought we should say more about it.

People simply need the cash for any number of things including over the counter medication (who can afford a trip all the way to an emergency room just to get sent away hours later with over the counter medication?), sanitary supplies (easily $10 a month), shoes (wear out fast when you have to walk everywhere), new underwear and socks and bras (rarely given out at clothing giveaways or available at thrift shops and besides at thrift stores there are never dressing rooms for try ons and who can afford to spend the money when there are no returns), gas for their vehicle, stamps and postal box name it... not just cigarettes, beer, drugs.

OK so here is the slippery slope of trading food benefits for other goods.


A family member or friend who is doing way better than you actually invites you over for a party or meal and you want to contribute something.  So you go shopping with them and then use your EBT -SNAP to pay for some groceries.  You get to eat some of what you bought and some of what they provided. We feel no guilt.  But we will have to go to a food bank to make up for it.

This is a lot like living at a shelter that serves one, two, or three meals a day to residents.  Sure if you stay there all day every day you will eat, but you might not get enough food, healthy food, and what happens when you need to get out and go?  (APPLY FOR EBT if you are not on SSI/SSDI etc.)


Someone at the shelter has a car and you ask them to give you a ride.  They say you have to pay gas and you have no money for gas so instead you offer to buy them groceries in exchange.  Maybe a tuna salad and some cola on your card.  The  exchange is pretty even.  A couple gallons of gas to get you where you need to go. We feel no guilt.


You go shopping with someone specifically to pay for their groceries and then they look at the receipt and give you the amount just spent in cash.  (A great deal by the way!  We hear of people giving 24% of the total so they are basically buying their own groceries real cheap.)


You go into a store - usually an independently owned corner store where the owner will give you a certain percentage of cash based on your purchase.  Basically you put, say $20 of retail groceries on your EBT which they bought wholesale and they KEEP the groceries and get to sell them again.  How much do you get?  We hear as low as 25 cents on the dollar, meaning that for the $20 in cash you may have to "buy" groceries worth $80.  Seeing what a raw deal this is, you can tell a person is desperate for cash.  However, some people find this better - more sure and less humiliating or risky with the police - than begging or panhandling.

5) TOTALLY ILLEGAL on YOUR PART and that of the BUYER.
You place an ad on  a Craigs List type Internet sales and trading place saying you have a card for sale.  When the buyer arrives you hand over your card, give them the pin number, they give you the cash agreed upon and go buy groceries at what is usually a big discount for them.  (Wouldn't going to a food bank be a better option to supplement grocery buying?) Then you go to your social services and claim that you lost the card or it was stolen from you.  Really bad karma!

No comments: