You cannot buy electronics with food stamps. You cannot buy cigarettes with food stamps. You cannot buy pet food with food stamps. You cannot withdraw money with an EBT card (food stamps).
Do you know what else you can’t buy with food stamps? Shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, tinfoil, plastic sandwich bags, toothpaste, cleaning products, tampons, pads, over the counter medications (such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.), and anything else you can think of that you cannot physically ingest for nutritional purposes.
Do you know what you can buy with food stamps? Food.
Do you know what it’s like to scrounge for change to buy non-edible necessities, use a credit card and EBT card (food stamps) during the same transaction, and then have the person in line behind you judge you for buying the ingredients to make a birthday cake?
People who disseminate false information about food stamps have never had to use food stamps.
Okay, but let’s talk for a second about how that one lady called turkey “big chicken”
You can’t even buy all food with food stamps. You just… you flat-out can’t buy “food that will be eaten in the store/any food sold for on-premises consumption” or any “hot foods” with food stamps—meaning you can’t buy anything hot, you can’t buy anything that gets blended together, you can’t buy anything “pre-prepared,” in most cases you can’t use your EBT card at restaurants. You literally CANNOT purchase a milkshake with food stamps, because it’s considered “sold for on-premises consumption” (which was ridiculous at the place I worked, because the customer had to mix their own milkshake themself with a little machine we provided them, and several people got upset—rightfully so, I think—that it wasn’t covered under food stamps, because they often only found out at the register after already mixing it, often as a treat for their kids). You literally can’t walk into a gas station, grab one of those hot dogs off their grills/out of the little heated food area, and buy it with food stamps, because it’s hot.
And when I say “can’t,” I don’t mean “if the cashier notices you trying and cares enough to stop you, they’ll refuse to do it for you.” I mean “it is actually impossible to do this.” I’m not even sure these people who disseminate false information about food stamps have paid any attention at all when buying things at the store, because what happens is: We scan in the customer’s items, into our computer. The computer has specific codes for the items and rules for what it will let you pay for things with. We scan the customer’s EBT card, and it tells us exactly how much of that price total can be paid for via EBT, and it will not include anything that isn’t food, and it will not include anything considered “pre-prepared” food. It does this automatically AND THERE IS NO OVERRIDE FOR IT. If our machines say that you can’t use the EBT card to pay for something, there is literally nothing we can do to change that, even if we WANTED to.
So no. You can’t buy iPads or cigarettes with food stamps. You can’t withdraw money from casinos or anywhere else with food stamps. You can’t buy dog food with food stamps; sometimes you can’t even buy people food with food stamps. I’m not even sure if you can buy “the big chicken legs” at Disney with food stamps; remember, you can’t buy “any food sold for on-premises consumption” OR any hot foods, and that’s both.
Literally the only thing these fearmongers listed that you can actually purchase with food stamps even if you are in goddamn cahoots with the evil liberal cashier or store manager is soda, and the judgement against people buying that with food stamps is classist fuckwittery at its finest.
So, as always, Fox News is actually flat-out lying, and hateful conservatives both don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t give a fuck about people going through shit that they will never have to go through themselves, and that they in fact don’t have even the tiniest clue about (not even via five seconds’ research; a list of things that can’t be purchased with food stamps is on the Food and Nutrition Services website) but still think they should spout off about to their TV audience anyway.
As a former user of food stamps, this is all completely true. However, in some states you can also get temporary assistance, which is done through the same EBT card and CAN be used for non-food items, such as toothpaste, toilet paper, diapers, pet food, gas, busfare, minutes for your phone so you can do things like schedule job interviews or medical appointments, or towards utilities or rent. The amount I got was about $35/week. (It was actually $70 twice a month, so a little less than that.) When I bought my groceries I’d swipe once and put it through as food stamps, then swipe again and cover anything else with TA money.
It is theoretically possible to put TA money towards luxuries. You CAN in fact take it out of an ATM and spend it as cash (or you could when I used it in NY in 2009) but honestly it’s such small change given to the most desperate people that you’d have to actually be Scrooge McDuck for that to keep you up at night. Where’s the fearmongering for what bankers are buying with that bailout money? I bet THEY have some shiny damn electronics.
Also just standard reminder that the prepared food restriction is AWFUL. Not only does it fuck over the homeless who have no place to cook, but a chronic problem is people in long-term transitory housing situations, living in motel efficiencies, which are often just a room with a bed, toilet, shower, minifridge with no freezer, and microwave. The old paradigm where poor people at least could rent an apartment or had a house is coming to an end, and we’re entering an era where the new underclass is permanently transient, couchsurfing, renting rooms and efficiencies, in and out of brushes with homelessness. Additionally, a stocked kitchen is expensive to set up—pots, pans, implements, spices, etc—and if you’re regularly getting your possessions reduced to what you can carry, you likely don’t have one, even if there’s technically a stove where you’re staying. The expectation that poor people can cook is outdated, even assuming they had the time, energy, and skillset. Furthermore, a lot of people are on food stamps because they’re disabled, which may also complicate how easy it is to cook.