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Old 06-08-2009, 07:04 AM
Coso Kid Coso Kid is offline
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Default Paper Food Stamps phased out

Paper food stamps about to be worthless



10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, June 7, 2009

By MELISSA EISELEIN
The Press-Enterprise

The final step in the transition from paper food stamps to plastic cards is about to be completed, and the old-style paper coupons will soon be worthless.

The federal government started in 1997 to phase out paper food stamps, which worked like cash. The last paper coupons were distributed in 2002.

On June 17, all of them will expire and stores will no longer accept them, so officials are encouraging people with any left to use them right away.

Few paper coupons are used anymore. Stater Bros. Markets, which operates 166 stores from San Diego to the High Desert, receives fewer than $100 annually in paper food coupons at all its stores, said Jack Brown, chairman and chief executive officer.

Instead of the paper coupons, participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program now get money on an electronic benefit transfer card, or EBT card.

Similar to an ATM debit card, the EBT cards are easier and safer to use than paper food coupons, officials say.

People getting federal supplementary nutrition assistance get an electronic benefit transfer card that works much like a debit card.

Lost cards can be easily replaced. They have also reduced fraud by ensuring recipients use the funds to buy food for their families, said Susan Loew, director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services.

Funds can be used to buy only food, or seeds to grow food, for household members of the recipient. They cannot be used to buy nonfood items such as dog food, medicine or alcoholic beverages.

EBT cards are also more cost-effective for the counties that oversee the federal program, officials say.

"There are no mailing of coupons. Funds transferred to a bank are instantaneous," said Steve Couchot, San Bernardino County's assistant to the director of the Transitional Assistance Department.

Brown, the State Bros. CEO, said he's glad for the switch to EBT cards.

Raised by solely his widowed mother from the age of 8, Brown said he understands what it is like for a family to struggle financially and knows the stigma associated with being poor.

The EBT cards allow struggling families to shop for groceries with dignity, he said. Instead of paying with the recognizable food coupons, recipients slide the EBT card like a credit card.

"Kids in line with their mother had to see them pull out those paper coupons," Brown said. "The mother may know, but the kids should not be exposed to it."

Families can apply for aid at their local Department of Public Social Services office.

An online eligibility tool is available to help individuals and families find out if they qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits: www.snap-step1.usda.gov
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:06 AM
Coso Kid Coso Kid is offline
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No more selling $100.00 worth of food stamps for $50.00?

Was there any such thing as counterfeit food stamps?
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Old 06-08-2009, 08:44 AM
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AyatollahGondola AyatollahGondola is offline
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It wouldn't do for all the taxpayers seeing just how many people were actually on food stamps in their communities, would it? Remember driving by the welfare/food stamp office and seeing how many and who were standing in those lines. they've eliminated the stigma alright. The stigma that the authorities were getting from the paying public
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