EBT cards for health food v. custom cakes

7:44 PM, May 24, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Your tips to our wasteline keep coming in and we are responding.

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After seeing our story about a local grocery chain encouraging people to use their EBT card to buy candy bouquets, we got an email from Walta who was a trainer with a local supermarket chain. She wrote:
I have seen purchases of $50-60 children's birthday cakes as well as wedding cakes for hundred(s) of dollars. It would be interesting to review the eligible items.

OK let's do that. According to the government website on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, baked goods are allowed.

Eligible items include: Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers and ice cream; they are considered food items. 

Someone could buy a specialty cake for $50 using their EBT card.

The same $50 could buy:

33 cans of tuna (6.5 oz)

39 lbs of broccoli

19 lbs of chicken breasts

Although Georgia State Senator John Albers would like to see regulations mandating healthy food be purchased, it can get complicated. Here's the catch, several times Congress has tried to place limits on the types of foods that can be bought. However, they concluded that designating foods as luxury or non-nutritious would be too costly and burdensome, so the idea was abandoned. All that can be done is to educate those receiving the benefits to make better choices.

In fact just last week 11Alive's Melissa Long brought us a story about how group called Wholesome Wave is working with Georgia farmers markets to double EBT card benefits. If you use your EBT card to buy food at a farmers market you get twice as much. $10 becomes $20 and so on.

$50 spent on a custom cake would buy $100 of farm fresh produce.

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