Food Stamps Can Now Be Used to Buy Starbucks and Muffins
Business + Economy

Food Stamps Can Now Be Used to Buy Starbucks and Muffins

With so many government programs facing cutbacks, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides food stamp services to all 50 states will likely face some heat over this story.

Natalie Brand of FOX 12 in Oregon took a woman receiving food stamps with her to a local Starbucks, inside a Safeway grocery store, and taped her buying a $5.25 Tall Frappuccino and a slice of fresh pumpkin bread with her Oregon Trail benefits card. The Trail card is part of the federal food tamp program.

Actual food stamps were phased out years ago in favor of a plastic card that beneficiaries can use like a credit card. More than $64 billion in food stamps were distributed in 2010, with most people receiving about $135 a month, and as of June 2011 45,183,931Americans were receiving federal food stamp assistance.

A Safeway spokesman told FOX 12 they recently added the ability to use foodstamps in the Starbucks kiosk as a "convenience to customers." Apparently the purchase works only in the grocery store Starbucks and not at stand-alone stores.

SNAP restrictions prevent the card from being used to purchase hot food or anything that is pre-prepared, but people can purchase sweets, soft drinks, and even energy drinks if they have a nutritional label.

Starbucks and Safeway aren't the only companies scrambling to get their share of that $64 billion in food stamp money. Early this fall Yum! restaurants Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut began their push to be included in the program.

In Late November, however, the USDA  seemed to rebuke the Yum! campaign and said their agency was only interested in promoting "healthy foods."

Companies fighting to gain access to the program point out that homeless people using foodstamps don't have kitchens and still need hot food, and they should be the ones to sell it to them.

Read more at Business Insider.