In Oregon, food stamps will buy you Starbucks frappuccinos

posted at 6:00 pm on December 7, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Ever read a personal finance advice column with regularity? It’s usually just a matter of time before the columnist posts a piece headlined something along the lines of “Five Easy Ways to Save Money This Season.” Inevitably, the first of the “five easy ways” is to forego the specialty Starbucks drinks. Save $3 a day — or more than $1,000 a year! Invest that money at 5 percent compound interest and, in 10 years, you’ll have $1,628.89!

It’s all very tedious and plenty of folks would rather just have the caffeine fix now, as Starbucks’ success attests — but, the point is, most people who indulge in custom frappuccinos with any regularity know they’re overpriced and probably leave the coffee shop feeling vaguely guilty for having splurged yet again. My compromise: Buy the glass-bottled four-packs at Walmart. Still pricey, but not outrageously so.

But, if I were on food stamps in Oregon, I’d indulge in a luxury coffee concoction far more frequently than I do. Why? Because my Oregon Trail card would cover it. Sure, taxpayers would be on the hook for my caffeine addiction, but I wouldn’t think about that.

Fox 12 in Oregon reports:

With the help of Jackie Fowler, who has a “supplemental nutrition card” or Oregon Trail Card, Fox 12 visited an in-store Starbucks within a Safeway in the town of Salem. Fowler purchased a tall Frappuccino and a slice of pumpkin bread — and paid for both using her Oregon Trail card.

“It’s crazy,” Fowler told Fox 12, showing off the receipt for $5.25.

“They’re overpriced as it is,” said Fowler of the specialty drink. “That’s money that somebody could be eating with — a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk.” Fowler, who made the purchase only for the purpose of Fox 12′s story, says she thinks it’s a huge misuse of the food assistance program.

On a serious note now, this report makes me thankful for folks like Jackie Fowler. Actually, if I were on food stamps in Oregon, I would want to be just like her. But, sadly, it’s all too true that many people spend other people’s money more easily than they spend their own — and, if a system can be abused, some people will abuse it.

A spokesman with the Oregon State Department of Human Services said they will look into the matter. I hope so. Stories like this one — however small it seems in isolation — help to explain why so many people have so little faith in government programs.


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In Oregon, Marx would be a table-pounding Conservative.

OhEssYouCowboys on December 7, 2011 at 6:04 PM

The lot of the local pizza parlors in Oregon are starting to sell “take and bake” pizzas so they can bypass the rules about pre-made foods.

I know the local Papa Murphys (take and bake only) has a huge professional sign in the window: We take Oregon Trail Cards!!

I say do away with the cards and go back to the old Government Cheese, bread, & eggs. It would be a lot cheaper for the taxpayer.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:05 PM

And, why not?

In Chicago, they can buy you booze, sex and drugs.

We have to remember… It is all for the children!

LaserBeam on December 7, 2011 at 6:06 PM

Tina.. you are thinking stamps hun. Food Stamps are now on a debit/credit card thing. Yeah, sed but true and brought to you by our liberals.

upinak on December 7, 2011 at 6:08 PM

I say do away with the cards and go back to the old Government Cheese, bread, & eggs. It would be a lot cheaper for the taxpayer.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Port, most people think they are still stamps. Not the debit cards. Alaska is thinking about going back to stamps… and I hope they do!

upinak on December 7, 2011 at 6:09 PM

5% interest Tina? What magical bank are you using?

thphilli on December 7, 2011 at 6:12 PM

It is a “right” to have a Frappuccino, just like the “right” to have health care, broadband cable and an Ipad.

Silly Rabbits!

Opposite Day on December 7, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Most all fast food chains and convenience stores accept Food Stamps for almost any item here in LA County. Not news on the Left Coast.

Lost Angeles on December 7, 2011 at 6:14 PM

OT: Hmmmmmmmm?

ConservativePartyNow on December 7, 2011 at 6:15 PM

why bother getting a job,part 1412

joeindc44 on December 7, 2011 at 6:15 PM

O bless there Lefty Bleed’n Socialist hearts…….!!

canopfor on December 7, 2011 at 6:16 PM

Of course. When you can use your (here in Michigan they call them bridge cards) food stamp credit card to go casino-hopping, why not? /s

What they do with the cards here is a crime. There is so much fraud at the small stores and gas stations it’s stunning.

totherightofthem on December 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

ConservativePartyNow on December 7, 2011 at 6:15 PM

For an Alaskan, you really are very good at flubbing up the party.

upinak on December 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Not really feeling the outrage here. The cards come with a set $ amount on them, and once that is used up, then no more purchases until the next month. If someone wastes some on overpriced food rather than groceries for their family, it’s their bad choice. The cost to the taxpayer is the same in both cases.

AngusMc on December 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Port, most people think they are still stamps. Not the debit cards. Alaska is thinking about going back to stamps… and I hope they do!

upinak on December 7, 2011 at 6:09 PM

I don’t know. I remember people selling the stamps for 50 cents on the dollar, and taking the money and buying crap/cigs/beer.

There will always be fraud, I guess.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:18 PM

I say do away with the cards and go back to the old Government Cheese, bread, & eggs. It would be a lot cheaper for the taxpayer.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Why not MRE’s? That would allow the governmnet to keep a lot of stock on hand for the military and they would probably cost less than what is going on now.

sharrukin on December 7, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Food stamps should be restricted to beans, rice, eggs, penutbutter, bread, vegitables, and milk unless they have a medical condition. Food stamps should also be restricted to the bottom 10% of the population. If a person buys alcohol or cigaretts, even with their own money, they should get kicked off of food stamps.

AnotherOpinion on December 7, 2011 at 6:18 PM

why bother getting a job,part 1412

joeindc44 on December 7, 2011 at 6:15 PM

joeindc44:Good point,they would be going to Foreigns any how!(sarc)
===================================================================

Stimulus jobs went to foreign nationals in Oregon timber industry
Oct 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM
**************************
**************************

PORTLAND, Ore. – As the U.S. economy spiraled deeper into recession, Oregonians looking for work in the forestry industry lost out on hundreds of jobs to foreign workers.

They weren’t just any jobs. These were jobs paid for by American taxpayers as part of the government’s program to stimulate the economy.

Four Oregon companies, all located in the Medford area, racked up more than $7 million in stimulus contracts to clear the forest in Central Oregon. But instead of advertising the jobs to Oregonians, they recruited workers out of state and then hired foreign workers here on a visa.

But the companies did not break the law. A Department of Labor report this week found they utilized loopholes that required them to recruit workers only in the states where the work began.

In this case, the stimulus jobs started outside of Oregon so the companies were not required to advertise the jobs here.

As a result, few Americans applied for the work, and the companies did not hire those Americans who applied;

instead, they hired 254 foreign laborers for six worksites in Oregon, leaving Americans shut out of the stimulus-funded jobs.

“When they’re using stimulus money, that’s not fair or right at all. Stimulus money is tax money,” said logger Dennis Mattinen.

“I know guys that were losing their equipment back then because they didn’t have any work. And I’m sure they would have done anything to get work,” said logger Jeff Heller,

who owns his own logging company. “The purpose of that stimulus money was to create jobs, and when it goes to foreign nationals, that’s just a crime.”
(More….)
=================

http://www.katu.com/news/local/132361303.html

canopfor on October 22, 2011 at 6:12 AM

canopfor on December 7, 2011 at 6:19 PM

There will always be fraud, I guess.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:18 PM

I saw some lady buying cheetos with her card… as I stood there looking at my meager items going WTF am I doing wrong?

upinak on December 7, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Dang it! I have got to get signed up for this program.

My compromise: Buy the glass-bottled four-packs at Walmart. Still pricey, but not outrageously so.

My compromise is to make them myself at home, coffee, milk, cream, sugar, chocolate, dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, what else? They’re not difficult to make.

You can even get an espresso machine at walmart and make yerself crazy, at least they make me crazy(er).

Skandia Recluse on December 7, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Didn’t Uncle Omar use his to post bail and Zero to buy his Harvard thinkology diploma?

50lb sack of beans, 50lb sack of rice and a recipe card stapled to each…. or maybe a meal plan card at Mickey D’s because that’s what many if not most perpetual Welfare Queens are feeding their love-puppies because the idea of cooking reminds them too much of work.

viking01 on December 7, 2011 at 6:20 PM

For an Alaskan, you really are very good at flubbing up the party.

upinak on December 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Sometimes I just do it for the reaction. Amy not always agree with it, but always think politics should be fun

ConservativePartyNow on December 7, 2011 at 6:21 PM

AngusMc on December 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

The problem is the democrats are pushing for an increase in food stamp expenditures. There is a push to spend even more money on this rather than getting jobs for people.

http://ellison.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=730:rep-ellison-to-partipate-in-food-stamp-challenge-&catid=1:latest&Itemid=16

“This is about more than just food stamps,” Ellison said. “We are in the midst of a national conversation about the growing gap between the super-rich and the rest of us. More than half a million Minnesotans struggle with hunger. The food stamp benefit of $121 per week to feed a family of four equals one hour of salary for a person making $250,000 a year. For many of our neighbors, food stamps make the difference between going hungry and paying rent.”

William Amos on December 7, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Here in Texas they are now posting small “ETB” signs at fast food and convenience stores. In case you aren’t aware, EBT = electronic benefits transfer. That’s also why when you stand in line at the grocery store you see the lady in front of you whip out the red & white credit card (Lone Star card) first and then pull out a VISA to mop up the items that don’t qualify.

Follow her out and you will get to see she and the kids climb into a Honda mini-van that is newer than anything on your driveway.

DanMan on December 7, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Ugh( Foreigns),should be,Foreigners!

canopfor on December 7, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Step 1: Means test
Step 2: Pee in this bottle..

We’ll get back to you on your app, next in line please…

hillsoftx on December 7, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Every fast food joint in the poorer parts of my town has E B T in big letters on the windows – there’s no prohibition on prepared food here.

In addition to the gross waste of taxpayer money through these assistance programs, it underscores the other life problems (poor nutrition, poor purchasing decisions, poor education of the “basic life choices” type) that these poorly run programs either create or encourage.

Quantus on December 7, 2011 at 6:23 PM

I saw some lady buying cheetos with her card… as I stood there looking at my meager items going WTF am I doing wrong?

upinak on December 7, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Me too. My wife and I are buying basics (Eggs,Bread,Meat,) and the welfare frauds in front of us are buying stuff I couldn’t afford.

I know that college students can get food stamps now. That ticks me off to no end.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:24 PM

O/T
======

Update: Jerry Sandusky taken to Pennsylvania county jail after being unable to post $250,000 bail in cash – @AP
2 Hrs.ago
Hot
Update
http://www.breakingnews.com/
=============================

Dec 7, 5:21 PM EST
Sandusky jailed on new child sex abuse charges
***********************************************

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_PENN_STATE_ABUSE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-12-07-15-46-07

canopfor on December 7, 2011 at 6:27 PM

Please people….

Can’t we agree to leave Starbucks alone. Otherwise the Ivy League BA’s won’t be able to find jobs either.

sheesh

WryTrvllr on December 7, 2011 at 6:27 PM

My problem is the people who need this program getting the aid. Its the fraud that comes with a program that is so huge.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/obama-administration-targeting-food-stamp-fraud-as-program-reaches-record-highs/2011/12/05/gIQAfdM3XO_blog.html?wprss=federal-eye

With more Americans relying on the program, the Obama administration on Tuesday plans to announce new steps to crack down on SNAP fraud amid estimates suggesting as much as $753 million in federal food aid is spent fraudulently each year.

USDA plans to introduce what officials described as “severe penalties” for the illegal “trafficking” of SNAP benefits by retailers and beneficiaries. The officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue in advance of this afternoon’s formal announcement, did not detail the severity of the penalties.

William Amos on December 7, 2011 at 6:27 PM

I know that college students can get food stamps now. That ticks me off to no end.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:24 PM

well I don’t see me getting FS anytime soon. And most of the college kids are flipping FAT. They don’t need no fs!

upinak on December 7, 2011 at 6:30 PM

I know that college students can get food stamps now. That ticks me off to no end.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:24 PM

I’d say put those college kids back on dorm style food and the food stamp crowd as well. Public school cafeterias could be put into use for evenings. Nothing like institution food to have government dependent people rethink how they put food on their table.

viking01 on December 7, 2011 at 6:31 PM

Chart: The Rise of Food Stamps
July 1 2011
************
************

Food stamps are in the news again, in a major way: new data from the USDA shows that nearly one in seven people in the United States are currently using them. Since 2007, the number of people receiving food stamps has increased over 60 percent, from just over 27 million to 44.6 million in April 2011, the most recent month available.

The chart above, courtesy of the blog Zero Hedge and based off these numbers from the USDA, details the steep rise of food stamp use beginning in 2007, before the start of the recession. Throughout the period of economic turbulence since then, food stamps have become quite prevalent: 14.3 percent of the American public participated in the program in April.
(More….)
===========

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/07/chart-rise-food-stamps/39519/

canopfor on December 7, 2011 at 6:33 PM

I say do away with the cards and go back to the old Government Cheese, bread, & eggs. It would be a lot cheaper for the taxpayer.

portlandon on December 7, 2011 at 6:05 PM

When I worked in grocery stores in the ’70s, we took food stamps, along with “WIC cards”, big things that looked like IBM punch cards. The cards were in different colors, for specific commodities like powdered milk, cheese, milk, frozen orange juice, baby food, baby cereal, etc. This store was in the ‘hood, and we handled tons of food stamps and WIC cards.

With the EBT cards (like the Lone Star Card here in TX), people can spend the funds on pretty much anything in a grocery store so long as it’s food.

Ward Cleaver on December 7, 2011 at 6:33 PM

What a Country!

Opposite Day on December 7, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Absolutely no surprise. Working in retail you see it all the time. They will come in with a fully loaded card and spend $30-40 on Halloween or Christmas candy right off the bat. Break snacks go on the cards. No shock at all.

One woman who milks the system for everything had her daughter call one night, “My Mom just bought groceries…” No, I thought to myself, your Mom bought four cases of Pepsi and four bags of potato chips. Those aren’t groceries, that’s junk food, and we are paying for it.

jaliranchr on December 7, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Reminds me of the story recently with the guy that bought lobsters on a welfare card. Of course, he turned around and sold them for smack.

Silver lining: At least you can’t resell Starbucks..?

onetrickpony on December 7, 2011 at 6:47 PM

Oregon: Where the young go to retire.

albill on December 7, 2011 at 6:53 PM

5% interest Tina? What magical bank are you using?

thphilli on December 7, 2011 at 6:12 PM

She said invest, not stick it in a bank. If you can’t average 5% a year over a 10 year period investing, you have serious issues. The stock market has historically averaged over 10%. A decent mutual fund should get you 8% over an extended period of time.

Now at that same 5%, if instead of just saving the $3 a day for 1 year but instead did it for the full 10 years, that would be more like $15,000. Save $5 instead of $3 per day and that 15 becomes $30,000. Do it for 30 years and it is $150,000. Start your kids doing it at age 15 until they retire at age 65 and it becomes close to $500,000. Manage to average 8% and your kid has 1.35 million.

Getting rich, its just a matter of discipline and time. Its not rocket science.

AndrewsDad on December 7, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Wasn’t that long ago you could use your Kalifornia welfare card at casinos in Vegas, and in stores and bars on cruise ships.

For some reason, for once, a majority of folks got pissed off about this and the welfare folks actually put in software to deny payments from these types of facilities.

GarandFan on December 7, 2011 at 6:59 PM

I spent a couple of months on foodstamps 98-99. I HATED it. I bought mostly generics and found myself apologizing for buying the occasional dessert…from the store. It would’ve NEVER occurred to me to go out to eat w/ my link card.
Now I have a Starbucks Gold Reward Card-you add money to it-and get all sorts of perks. I can use it guilt free because the funds I add-were earned by ME!

annoyinglittletwerp on December 7, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Oregon’s new motto – Life, Liberty and Free Overpriced Coffee For All

jfox21 on December 7, 2011 at 7:15 PM

I love my state.
OR got a big bonus from the feds for doing pushing the SNAP program (food stamps) better than anyone else. Pushin’ the entitlements is a lot like pushin’ the dope.

Oregon earns $5 million in performance bonuses for food benefit program;
wins grant to test innovative approach to client eligibility screening

But then, this is another state that re-elected an old dem retread as governor, because the GOP could only find a Dudley.

Marcola on December 7, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Starbucks is desperate to find someone who will buy their sugar free, fat free, tasteless, overpriced “pastries.” Welfare recipients!

Love their coffee, but the pastry…shudder.

PattyJ on December 7, 2011 at 7:23 PM

Not really feeling the outrage here. The cards come with a set $ amount on them, and once that is used up, then no more purchases until the next month. If someone wastes some on overpriced food rather than groceries for their family, it’s their bad choice. The cost to the taxpayer is the same in both cases.

Except here in Wisconsin, people magically “lose” their cards–some on a regular basis–and the government gives them more, no questions asked.

Plus keep in mind that these people using food stamps/cards to buy unhealthy food will then become even more obese and end up on Badgercare at the taxpayer’s expense as well. Cradle to grave, you know.

I know I’m just a heartless conservative, but maybe if we start letting some of these people starve and/or drop dead of obesity related diseases, maybe it will motivate the rest to get off their arses and do something with their lives besides suckle from the public teat.

Phoenix7 on December 7, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Who decided that coffee was food? Did I miss the memo?

LunaLovegood on December 7, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Those food debit cards are why we’ll never see the food lines like The Great Depression. When 40 million are on food stamps, the lines would be very noticeable.

LoganSix on December 7, 2011 at 7:53 PM

I think you should have to pass a drug test to be on welfare AND it should only be for a period of 3-6 months with extenstions for those who REALLY qualify.

As far as this goes though. I’m betting its just because you can take something from one section and pay for it in another section. Atleast thats how it is at my local safeway. Sometimes I may get the household needs and then walk over to the deli line and get some warm food and they ring up everything together. I dont doubt thats pretty much the same set up for what ever you buy in the store.

Politricks on December 7, 2011 at 8:10 PM

When 40 million are on food stamps, the lines would be very noticeable.

LoganSix on December 7, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Great point, thanks for the perspective!

I’d like to add that the Starbucks has no cash value on the street. I read a comment once about some guys who’d buy something like $200 worth of bottled water, dump the water behind the store, and then turn the bottles back in for the deposit, value of about $20. Now there’s street cred, nome sane?

WeekendAtBernankes on December 7, 2011 at 8:14 PM

The topic is pretty grim, sorry about the “!” there. I just hadn’t considered that before.

WeekendAtBernankes on December 7, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Those food debit cards are why we’ll never see the food lines like The Great Depression. When 40 million are on food stamps, the lines would be very noticeable.

LoganSix on December 7, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Waiting in line might do them some good.

sharrukin on December 7, 2011 at 8:23 PM

In Louisiana, we feed kids twice a day and have special locations open to feed them on weekends, the summer and holidays.
I hear that they are now proposing meals for dinner too.
GREAT!
If we do that we can completely eliminate food stamps for most families since it is AIDE TO FAMILIES WITH DEPENDENT CHILDREN.
All the children of school age would already have been fed.

barnone on December 7, 2011 at 8:24 PM

I used to get a Starbucks coffee every day at lunch. I cut that out a long time ago.

Of course, back in my younger days, I worked at a Food Lion part-time. It always amazed me how people on food stamps ate better than I could – shrimp, steak, you name it. And when one food stamp customer asked me to take her groceries to her car, it turned out to be a shiny new red sports car.

Scamming the federal government’s social programs has become a lifestyle to many, and they know how to take advaantage. So I’m not surprised Oregon food stamps will pay for the coffee I (as a full-time employed person) had to cut from my budget.

DRayRaven on December 7, 2011 at 8:25 PM

Only in Oregon–unless you’re a lottery winner in Michigan.

stukinIL4now on December 7, 2011 at 8:29 PM

Those food debit cards are why we’ll never see the food lines like The Great Depression. When 40 million are on food stamps, the lines would be very noticeable.

LoganSix on December 7, 2011 at 7:53 PM

You are not kidding either, I am a vender for a grocery chain and I’ve worked in and my mom’s worked in that business for the better part of 20 years…her thirty.

The beginning of the month these stores are slammed because the food stamps come out, it’s been that way for the last year and a half.. huge difference in buying habits of the area. The busiest days are the 1st through the 10th.

Achele175 on December 7, 2011 at 8:30 PM

At my local DariMart here in the People’s Republic of Eugene, aka Moscow on the Willamette, the bums, aka the homeless, use their Oregon Trail Cards to buy a half gallon of milk for $2+$.95 bottle deposit. They go outside, to the alley behind the store, pour out the milk, and walk back into the store, return their bottle for the deposit, and use the 95 cents to buy beer. Pretty slick, I’d say!

foxymike on December 7, 2011 at 8:43 PM

We’re so screwed stories like this really don’t bother me that much anymore. It’s a drop in the greed-incompetence bucket.

Dr. ZhivBlago on December 7, 2011 at 9:24 PM

Frappachino?

Geez, for $5.25 you can get a couple 40ozs.

Priorities people.

NoDonkey on December 7, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Frappucino’s are a RIGHT dam it!!! occupy reality!

falsecast on December 7, 2011 at 10:22 PM

And yet again, no government bureaucrat will lose their jobs over this or any other similar incident.

Mycroft on December 8, 2011 at 2:00 AM

AndrewsDad on December 7, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Sorry, almost everything is rocket science to thphilli.

hawkdriver on December 8, 2011 at 5:54 AM

I wonder where Natalie Brand hails of Oregon’s Fox News 12 from? I find it interesting that she refers to the “town” of Salem like it was some small out of the way place where things might slip through the cracks. Salem is the capitol city of Oregon.

Browncoatone on December 8, 2011 at 7:22 AM

Boy am I asleep or what? That should have read:

I wonder where Natalie Brand of Oregon’s Fox News 12 hails from? I find it interesting that she refers to the “town” of Salem like it was some small out of the way place where things might slip through the cracks. Salem is the capitol city of Oregon.

Browncoatone on December 8, 2011 at 7:23 AM

Well, Minnesota welfare recipients demand a McMansion Stadium for their Vikings or Twins. I guarantee those who are easily distracted by the shiny beads of TV gotcha journalism. Minnesota’s welfare is more expensive than a $5 cup of coffee.

MNHawk on December 8, 2011 at 7:57 AM

If I invested $1,000 a year, and had only $1,628.89 after 10 years, I’d find a new money manager.

PantsDailyon on December 8, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Of course, if the government got out of the business of charity altogether, this waste/fraud/whatever problem would be immediately solved.

GWB on December 8, 2011 at 11:45 AM