Costco Now Accepting Food Stamps, Sort Of

Finally following the lead of its competitors, Costco will accept food stamp cards. For core food items, not other merchandise. Two New York City stores, in Astoria, Queens, and in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, will serve as test sites because of the high numbers of food stamp recipients nearby. If the program is successful, Costco will expand it to all other New York City stores, but there are no plans to expand the program to other cities or states.

In a statement, Costco CEO James D. Sinegal explained the reason for the trial run:

In the past, we have not been convinced that there was sufficient demand among our membership to justify the expense and possible inefficiencies associated with accepting food stamps. However, we are mindful that many of our fellow citizens are facing unprecedented economic challenges at this time, and it seemed to us that it was worth reconsidering our position in that light.

Smart choice, as many previously middle-class families find themselves relying on food stamps. Let’s hope this works out, and is expanded to the rest of the chain.

Costco Will Accept Food Stamps at 2 Stores (Thanks, Jorge!)

(Photo: maulleigh)

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  1. katieoh says:

    except how many people on food stamps have costco memberships? i mean, maybe some that recently lost a huge portion of their income, but if you’re living in the ghetto, $50 is a pretty decent chunk of money to throw down on a bulk store membership.

    • karmaghost says:

      @katieoh: Maybe more now once word of this gets out.

    • TheDustball says:

      @katieoh: I would guess that they would pool resources and have a few families go in on one membership. Even if not, the $50 would be offset by savings if you need to by food in bulk (large family or whatnot).

    • TheObserver says:

      @katieoh: True, hence the CEO clarifying that this policy was due to ‘fellow citizens facing unprecedented economic challenges’ (read: middle class folk).

      This policy is meant more for formerly well off middle class folk who may suddenly be relying on food stamps to make ends meet. Not for those in the ghettos and whatnot. The urban poor I assume would not have the time, money, and means to go to Costco, buy only a few bulk items they can afford, wait in long lines, etc. etc.

    • Hoss says:

      @katieoh: Except maybe from rap music, I don’t think I’ve seen the word ghetto in years. Maybe you meant the modern term “inner-city” — you know the places that black folks and the like live and aren’t at the right level to make a financial decision like Cosco shoppers

      • katieoh says:

        @Hoss: i spent a year living in bed-stuy. aka the ghetto. it’s saying nothing about the people living there, just the fact that the crime rate’s a bit high and the buildings are shitty and owned by slumlords.

        it’s in new york. inner-city makes no logical sense there, because “inner-city” in its literal sense means the inner parts of the city. which is manhattan. which means NO to that definition within the context.

    • Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

      @katieoh:
      You’re forgetting that a lot of people on food stamps go with friends that have a Costco card already to buy stuff.
      Costco can only win on this one, they need to apply this to all their stores.

      And if I understand it correctly, there are no food stamps in California.
      Cali adds cash to those on SSI or SSA payments that are food stamp eligible, meaning that they can shop at Costco without any hassle.

      • katieoh says:

        @Greasy Thumb Guzik: yeah, having lived in brooklyn, i can say with a fair amount of certainty that it doesn’t hold true there. most people on food stamps don’t buy in bulk, at least that i’ve seen. they might go out of their way to get a better price on something [ie to a chain store instead of the shitty, over-priced associated nearby] but i doubt they’re going to go all the way to costco. public transportation and all that.

        • sponica says:

          @katieoh: also buying in bulk (unless you’re sharing with others) just doesn’t make sense sometimes. I mean, I lived with 2 other girls in a semi decent prewar building on 4th Ave (slope side but really, it’s gowanus), and by the time we did our weekly grocery shopping there was no empty space in our pantry which was basically just a closet that had food in it. Now my mom’s pantry in our old house in middle of nowhere MA had enough food to survive nuclear war. The pantry in her condo is fairly decent as well.
          But my mother has discovered that based on the unit pricing, you’re only getting a deal on milk, butter and olive oil. Most of the other items have a better unit price when they’re on sale @ the supermarket.
          So I don’t see where the savings will be had…unless there’s someone on food stamps who buys gallons of milk, pounds of butter, and gallons of olive oil.

    • Triterion says:

      @katieoh: $50 is a lot for a poor family to spend, but they’ll more than make that up over the whole year. Also maybe a family member or friend will buy them a membership as a present! Yeay Costco for all!

      • katieoh says:

        @Newman!!!!: this comment warms my heart. i kind of want to make an anonymous costco-membership-donation now for someone that could use the discount. they should set that up, haha.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @katieoh: They’re not just for the poor. A friend of mine who’s a lawyer is also a foster parent, and she gets food stamps for her kids because they’re foster. She doesn’t really use them for her daughter, but her son has a special-needs diet that requires special formula, which is very expensive — potentially prohibitively expensive — but which food stamps cover.

      The cover a lot of processed foods, which she doesn’t really feed her kids, so I think other than the formula she mostly buys peanut butter with them.

  2. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Having worked in the office of a large parish which served the needs of the middle class, and having given away countless boxes of food to middle class people who have lost their jobs and who just can’t make it till the end of the month, I can assure you that a lot of people on food stamps are not “in the ghetto”.

    It may make people feel better to think that they are, and sure, *some* are, but so many aren’t these days.

  3. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    I can see a blooming market in selling the use of your Costco card.

  4. jharrell says:

    Well I guess this would be the last straw. The Costco of old is now dead. This chain is no longer a ‘club’ wholesale store. They let pretty much anyone one in… and now food stamps. wow.

    • twophrasebark says:

      @jharrell:

      You mean like in the past when you had to take the Costco “Test of Intelligence and Character” and provide three reference letters?

      What the fuck are you talking about?

      • thrashanddestroy says:

        Dear god, I wish Costco members had to pass some sort of test before being allowed in.

        • thelushie says:

          @thrashanddestroy: Congrats, you just made it into “Top 5 dumbest statements ever made on the Consumerist” You are currently #3

          • katieoh says:

            @thelushie: i have to know, what were the others?!

          • thrashanddestroy says:

            @thelushie: What do I have to do to dethrone you for the top spot?

            • thrashanddestroy says:

              @thrashanddestroy: As a matter of fact, let me go ahead and add to that; after you’ve worked at Costco for several years and have to endure the same over-inflated sense of entitlement attitudes that I’ve had to, maybe then you’ll have a basis for your “argument.” It doesn’t matter what sort of retail environment you’ve ever worked in, Costco is a different animal.

              I’ve had members audaciously ask if I knew how much they’ve spent there said year, give me some ridiculous number as I’m looking at their spending and return history, tell me said item isn’t “worth the price of their membership,” physically remove my name tag after explaining that Costco doesn’t price match, witnessed a member throw a literal bunch of bananas at a refunds clerk, and of course the absolute lack of common sense required to navigate a parking lot.

              Of course that probably doesn’t change your opinion, as I can tell you’re exactly the type of person an entrance exam would bar from ever stepping foot into a Costco if I had it my way.

              • nakedscience says:

                @thrashanddestroy: “as I can tell you’re exactly the type of person an entrance exam would bar from ever stepping foot into a Costco if I had it my way. “

                Wow. You are bitter. You do realize that you aren’t the only one who has held a shitty job with shitty customers, right?

              • pop top says:

                @thrashanddestroy: “I’ve had members audaciously ask if I knew how much they’ve spent there said year, give me some ridiculous number as I’m looking at their spending and return history, tell me said item isn’t “worth the price of their membership,” physically remove my name tag after explaining that Costco doesn’t price match, witnessed a member throw a literal bunch of bananas at a refunds clerk, and of course the absolute lack of common sense required to navigate a parking lot.”

                That sounds like oh, I don’t know, pretty much every goddamn retail job in the world. I’m so sorry that the plebeians hurt your feelings and dared to touch your precious name tag. But they’ll all learn, won’t they? You’ll go back to Costco in your late model sedan with your hot cousin that you had dress up for this on your arm and you’ll show them. You will be the one removing name tags by God. Maybe then Costco will learn how great you are without having to fall down the stairs so often.

    • katieoh says:

      @jharrell: … they let you in, so clearly they aren’t that exclusive, buddy.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @jharrell: What, so buying in bulk used to be for Bentley drivers and private jet owners? I’m not sure what Costco you were a member of, but it definitely wasn’t my Costco.

    • pop top says:

      @jharrell: I know, it’s terrible that anyone can get in just by buying the membership.

      I yearn for the days of yore when I could get a good snifter of brandy, light up a Cuban, relax in the ostrich skin chairs and talk about past safari expeditions, the price of tea in China and that new gallon jar of mayonnaise that just went on sale.

    • emis says:

      @jharrell:

      I think at one point you had to claim to be a small business to get memership–there was no individual level membership.

      So no, no test… but you could not walk in and say “I want to buy stuff”, he had to list a company name, etc… there was no follow-up, etc, but it was still a way to try to weed out the average individual.

      It’s similar to the way Grainger operates–or used to operate–you’ve got to establish an “account” with them where you provide your business information.

    • shepd says:

      @jharrell:

      The *ONLY* reason costco required memberships back in the day was to avoid being sued for selling under the MSRP. By selling memberships, especially to businesses, they would tell the manufacturers they are a “wholesale” business and they must sell under the MSRP so the “retailers” they are selling to can enjoy a profit.

      Now that it is no longer legal to sue over MSRP, the membership concept is a money maker, instead. And that’s why they let anyone with $50 in, because they can’t be sued and they like money (big surprise!)

  5. Triterion says:

    Costco is my favorite store, just wanted to share that, sorry.

  6. oldtaku says:

    I argued against it before, when people were suggesting Costco should be FORCED to take food stamps, but if they think the time is right then so be it. Their management seems pretty savvy, and a two store test run should give them a good idea of how well this works or how nasty it can get. As long as they think they can still turn a profit on it, it’ll lower prices for other CostCo members (more sales is more buying leverage).

    • DaBull says:

      @oldtaku: lets just hope they pass on the savings to their shoppers instead of having that leverage and keeping the benefits to themselves.

    • SpruceStreetPhil - in a new Pine flavor says:

      @oldtaku: I was the same way. I vehemently argued against forcing Costco to accept food stamps. But if they want to see if this turns a profit, I’m all for it. (I’m a classical view guy all the way)

  7. twophrasebark says:

    In the past, we have not been convinced that there was sufficient demand among our membership to justify the expense…However, we are mindful that many of our fellow citizens are facing unprecedented economic challenges…

    Translation: A bunch of elected representatives are really beating up in the press and we really hope if we add food stamps to these stores that no other elected officials in other cities will bother us. Please make this issue go away.

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I’m supposing that this doesn’t affect the types of payment Costco accepts…not trying to be snarky here, but how many food stamp holders are also American Express cardholders? I mean, with AmEx arbitrarily cutting credit left and right, and maintaining psychological profiles, they have to know that some middle class people are struggling. If they haven’t cut their card credit, I’m wondering whether people will suddenly just start using cash more often at Costco.

  9. michaelgibbons says:

    Great. So a place that I pay a yearly membership fee to (I go to the one in Long Island City/Astoria), I now also help pay for the groceries of other people in there, and pay higher prices for goods because of the direct overhead of implementing the system at Costco and the fact that whenever you subsidize something the cost goes up…

    …so I, a middle class person, gets what out of this?

    Gotta love this country. We wonder why the middle class is shrinking and we’re becoming more of a have and have not society.

    • katieoh says:

      @michaelgibbons: sorry, how are you “helping pay for their groceries”? if those on food stamps were encouraged to shop at costco, they might buy other things as well… therefore making them “profitable” in costco’s eyes. the system pays for itself.

      also, by your argument, every time costco opens a new location, the cost would come right back to the customers of the previous stores, as they have to “implement” a new location.

      your privilege is showing. and your argument sucks.

      • sonneillon says:

        @katieoh:
        Agreed and food stamps don’t work like that. It’s a federal program. They come in with a quest card. The card reads an amount is deducted the government then takes it’s sweet ass time sending the money but it eventually get’s to the business. If anything food stamps will slightly lower your food costs because of an increase in business means that they can order in larger increments bringing down cost.

        • michaelgibbons says:

          @sonneillon: Oh, boy. Another liberal-trickle down theorist.

          If the government can re-allocate capital so business somehow thrives more, why don’t we give them all of our income and let them pave the roads gold?!

          I’m not sure you understood my point about the overhead and red tape that Costco must deal with creating costs that must be passed onto the consumer.

      • twophrasebark says:

        @michaelgibbons:

        Yeah, gotta this country where there are too many people like you who only want to know “what’s in it for me?”

        And whether or not they use Costco does not change your taxes in the slightest. The “system” you speak of is supplied to any grocer willing to accepting food stamps and doesn’t affect Costo’s overhead at all.

        • michaelgibbons says:

          @twophrasebark: Are you for universal health care?

          I ask this because you probably will answer “Yes.” And if so, isn’t one of the biggest reasons amongst the pro-UHCers that it will somehow cut costs for us all?

          So when you have your fruits of your labor withheld and would prefer more was taxed, aren’t you, too, wanting your self-interests fulfilled?

          So you can try to use the pejorative term on me, when we all work in our self-interest.

          And though empirical economic fact on subsidization of goods is being dismissed by you, don’t you at least agree that private charity would achieve far greater nutrition for the poor than giving them a debit card?

          • subtlefrog says:

            @michaelgibbons:
            Ok, before I get started, my disclaimer: I’m taking his bait, and going OT…
            I think a lot of us are actually pro universal health care because what we have now is clearly flawed, fundamentally and obviously. How millions of people can be un- or underinsured, how millions of children can be without insurance is a crime. You can take this from a fiscal perspective, but I’m looking at it from a humanitarian one. I have health insurance. I am not likely to be without – between mine and boyfriends (qualify under liberal terms of his insurance so I could even be covered under his if need be). So no, for me, and for many of the people I know, it’s not about me, me, me.

            Yes, we all do work for our own interests, but in short – that’s not ALL we should be working for.

            • michaelgibbons says:

              @subtlefrog: subtlefrog, you see it as a human right. I don’t.

              Suppose I did, you want to give everyone health insurace, okay. But what about giving everyone health care? Those are two distinctly different terms. How will we not only pay for the care, but for the infrastructure in expanding the supply of doctors, medical centers, med schools, and syringes/band-aids to meet the demand? Or will we just have to increase wait times*.

              *Waits for the hailstorm of “You just spew Rush Limbaugh talking points**.

              **I’ve never listened to Rush Limbaugh in my life, other than his short stint on ESPN’s NFL Countdown.

              And I think we all should be working in our self-interests, because it benefits everyone. This could expand into a bigger conversation with this comment.

              • trujunglist says:

                @michaelgibbons:

                You’re arguing that people don’t have the right to live? Is that what I am seeing here? You’ve already said that no one has the right to food. No one has the right to getting health care either? So basically, if they grow up in miserable, shit conditions, in due part because of some gigantic entity called a government, then they should just die? Well shit, why don’t we just go back to slavery then? Fuck everyone else as long as it benefits us! They don’t have the right to live anyway, they just got all high and mighty and decided to be born. I mean GODDAMN who has the AUDACITY to be born, especially if they’re going to be poor? Let’s round those fuckers up since they’re too ignorant to make their own food choices, according to you. Put ‘em into camps, make ‘em WORK for their food (which we will strictly control).

                • michaelgibbons says:

                  @trujunglist: You’re building strawman, sensationalist arguments.

                  If you aren’t for UHC you don’t think that people have the right to live!

                  Not even worth wasting my time to rebut since your made up claims by me, and are too ignorant to interpret basic, economic theory.

      • michaelgibbons says:

        @katieoh: I’m privileged by being in college loan debt (private loans), working 60 hours a week, and living in modest means?

        • katieoh says:

          @michaelgibbons: aaaand there you go.

          you’re in college. that is a privilege. you have good enough credit to take out loans. privilege.

          oh, wait, you live within your means?! oh, nevermind. i forgot the way the poor blow all their money on such excesses!

          also, ps, you should really, really try to show me how “poor” you are some more. so i can laugh.

          • michaelgibbons says:

            @katieoh: What’s privilege to you? You obviously see college as some kind of entitlement. So what’s your answer? More federal money?

            Do you ever care to consider why prices, dismissing inflation for this example, rise so much?

            And am I supposed to feel pity for those who do not have what I have? That’s condescending. On the flip side, what is “poor” in your eyes, anyway? Isn’t wealth relative…

            • katieoh says:

              @michaelgibbons: pity isn’t what you should give. understanding and empathy is.

              privilege is anything people have that makes them unaware of how life is for those who do not have it. gender, skin color, class, anything. for you, it’s gender, class, educational capacity, intelligence [to an extent]… need i go on?

              • michaelgibbons says:

                @jkinatl2: Yes, because unless you reply, “Yes, Costco!” you are somehow a troll.

              • michaelgibbons says:

                @katieoh: Are you implying that my comments indicate I don’t understand or show empathy?

                And your “them” comment shows how arrogant you are, not me. And from your privilege comment is downright scary. How dare someone not be privileged to be a while, upper-class male? That’s what you’re basically claiming. What is this fixation on privilege to you. Everyone is only granted human rights. Anything else is a rule created by man. And no one’s privileged to anything else.

    • Charles Duffy says:

      @michaelgibbons: Well, let’s see. You, a middle class person, are:

      - Getting more for your taxes, as the people whose groceries you’re helping pay for are able to get better deals when buying in bulk.
      – Getting better deals at Costco, as they have more leverage with suppliers when moving larger quantities.
      – Getting slightly more potential value out of the (admittedly compulsary) safety net you’re paying for for use in the event that you lose your job and savings (yes, you may have enough to live off of for 6 months, or even two years — but a medical emergency can wipe that out pretty quickly).

      • michaelgibbons says:

        @Charles Duffy: Getting more for my taxes as they’re saving money? What a claim that is! Too bad it’s defies logic, as what’s more likely: They return money on the card, or just buy more?

        Your second claim: Again, this is the a liberal-Keynesian concept that the welfare somehow expands the economy. Well why stop at food stamps then? How about restaurant stamps, haircut stamps and whatever else.

        Your third claim: If you do lose your job or something catastrophic occurs, there are plenty of private charities out there that can help you get back on your feet. And if Americans had more of their income in their bank accounts instead of the government coffers, the great charity work people do out there would be far greater*. Food banks and soup kitchens are a fantastic contribution that private charity has created.

        *Look at the current recession. The less money people have, the less they’ll donate to private charity. Basic logic.

        • varro says:

          @michaelgibbons: If someone on food stamps is working, they spend that money on something else, stimulating the economy.

          2 – How about tax deductions for medical expenses, home mortgage interest, using Hummers for work, etc…

          3 – Food banks and soup kitchens are strapped as it is, let alone if some Spalding Smailses decide that “poor people are too fat – let’s cut their food stamps!”

          • michaelgibbons says:

            @varro: What is “stimulating the economy?” You mean the economy expands somehow, right? So why not give everyone food stamps as everyone will have money to spend on something else?

            2. How about low taxation and limited federal services?

            3. They’re strapped, okay. So the solution is expand public programs that require more taxation, and hurt private charity even more?

        • Charles Duffy says:

          @michaelgibbons:

          Getting more for my taxes as they’re saving money?

          Exactly. If you’re spending tax money for purposes of feeding the poor, and the poor have access to a means to use the funds so allocated more efficiently, you’re providing them with more food for the same number of tax dollars you would have been spending anyhow.

          Again, this is the a liberal-Keynesian concept that the welfare somehow expands the economy. Well why stop at food stamps then? How about restaurant stamps, haircut stamps and whatever else.

          I in no way claimed that Costco accepting food stamps “expands the economy”. Read again, for comprehension this time.

          If you do lose your job or something catastrophic occurs, there are plenty of private charities out there that can help you get back on your feet.

          Relying on private charity makes survival a matter of who you know and where you are; I’ve been there (spent about 1/2 a year sleeping on living room floors of people I knew), but it’s hardly reliable. I don’t want to place bets on whether some private charity will see fit to help me if I get into a rough scrape again; paying a percentage of my income into (effectively) a risk-spreading insurance fund operating under a known set of rules established via a democratic process seems by far the safer bet.

  10. michaelgibbons says:

    I also would like to guess that a majority of purchases by those on food stamps will be on “junk food” that has little to no nutritional value.

    And of those who buy the junk, I’ll venture that 90% of them eat to excess—more than 1750-2500 calories a day, which is all an adult needs.

    This program needs to end now.

    • sonneillon says:

      @michaelgibbons: When I worked retail most of it was on bread, hamburger and milk. I’m sorry if those excesses interfere with your standard of living.

    • katieoh says:

      @michaelgibbons: GOD YES ALL THOSE GROSS FAT POOR PEOPLE, RIGHT??@#()*$()#@*()

      you really need to check yourself, dude. the plural of anecdote isn’t data, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • sonneillon says:

        @katieoh: Then produce data to refute my anecdote. Currently my data is 1 area which is better than your data.

        • katieoh says:

          @sonneillon: i have no problem with your anecdote. which i have a problem with is people saying “GOD ALL THEY BUY IS JUNK FOOD.”

          you make judgments, i have problems. you report an observation, no problem.

        • michaelgibbons says:

          @sonneillon: What’s your data? The standard claim that people in America buy bread, eggs, and milk on food stamps when I have to sort through the soda and chip racks to get to those staples at my corner bodega?

          Furthermore, I question your credibility on the topic. Even the staunchest defenders of EBT cards admit to the fact that has issues with “junk food,” and the inner-city paradox: More recipients live in areas where fresh, nutritious food isn’t readily available (see bodegas). So how do you promote nutrition amongst the recipients? Do you force them to buy fruits and veggies only? So not only do you buy their food you tell them what they can eat—that sounds a bit dehumanizing to me. Then again, a simple look at Americans tells you that their free will leads them to shitty foods.

          I would like to tackle a bigger issue in this rambling post, too—farm subsidies, the farm lobby, and milk caps. Given the choice between a $4.00 gallon of milk (the price in urban areas) vs. $.99 2-liter of soda, the choice is quite simple. A bunch of grapes and 5 applies for $6.00, or a bag of Cooler Ranch and Chewy Granola bars for $5?

          [www.foodnavigator-usa.com]

    • twophrasebark says:

      @michaelgibbons:

      Yes, you do indeed guess.

      Food stamp users receive at most $6.50 per day for groceries. Nobody is eating to excess on $6.50 per day. Nobody is eating junk food on $6.50 per day.

      You need to stop talking now.

      • michaelgibbons says:

        @twophrasebark: Excess calories. I never said they’ll have more food, in a spatial/mass sense. I was discussing calories.

        And there are plenty of studies which back up my point: Doritos and Gatorade will be lining many of the EBT card recipient’s Costco carts.

        • katieoh says:

          @michaelgibbons: if you really gave a shit what the poor are buying with their foodstamps, you would be helping them get better education. want to know why brands are so pervasive? because people with lower iqs/educational opportunities can’t comprehend the notion of calories, fats, etc, so they buy what is marketed to them. the brands. the doritos, the gatorade.

          cutting off their food stamps isn’t the answer.

          • michaelgibbons says:

            @katieoh: Why do you feel that it’s your responsibility, or the taxpayer’s responsibility to educate people on what they eat?

            So you want to somehow educate these people on how they should eat, and you think you’ll have an iota of success? Look around. There are thousands of people with high IQs who eat themselves to death.

            Your ideas are infantilizing and humiliating. You know, even if I agree with you on giving people public money for food, I would completely be against your idea on educating them on their choices. If they want to eat an ice cream bar, so what? That’s their choice. I’d prefer it be with their own money, but I’m humoring you in this example.

            Katieoh, what is your ideal scenario? Make these people take a nutrition class? I’m sure that will work… Force them to only buy food that some created bureaucracy deems “healthy?” Okay…

            Please, I’m curious.

            • katieoh says:

              @michaelgibbons: oh, i don’t know, give them good teachers at every level and plenty of support so they can learn to read and comprehend. start from the beginning, and your end result will be far, far better.

              you missed my point entirely. good job.

              • michaelgibbons says:

                @katieoh: We already spend more per pupil than any industrialized nation. So we should spend more money to educate children on nutrition?

                Look, I can agree with you that the education system needs a reform. I think we’ll go separate ways on how to fix it, though.

                We may have found common ground. Maybe.

                • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

                  @michaelgibbons: feel free to read up on how the US currently spends money on school nutrition as compared to other countries.
                  [www.schoolfoodpolicy.com]
                  i never ate school lunches, i always packed my own. so the discussions on that page were a real eye opener for me. if you want people to learn not to eat junk food, it probably shouldn’t be their only choices in the school cafeteria growing up

                  • michaelgibbons says:

                    @catastrophegirl – manic first time home buyer: So you agree at least that more money is not the issue; it’s the leadership of the program head.

                    I would also like to point out that I rail against the farm subsidies in this nation. Again, I shouldn’t have to pay twice for food. And when we get unintended consequences like crappy, cheap corn-based food, I think I’m proven right by my gripes.

            • Charles Duffy says:

              @michaelgibbons: If someone is voluntarily accepting assistance, also accepting conditions on that assistance may be “humiliating” in the views of some — but it’s also perfectly reasonable.

              I don’t see how “giving people public money for food” (as opposed to alcohol or video games) is substantially different than “giving people public money for healthy food”; in both cases, the use of the funds is being restricted in such a way as to optimize the public benefit.

              • michaelgibbons says:

                @Charles Duffy: The federal government’s powers should not be this great. To deduce that since public money is going toward this, the government should decide what you eat and show you what you should eat is a bit scary. Effectively, you’re saying that millions of people can’t be trusted to eat food correctly, so the federal government should help decide.

                Hmm…what’s next our phone conversations? Oh, wait.

                So the issue of liberty and freedom is at stake even when it comes to food and your diets. To take a tyrannical approach to food only sets to stage for greater liberty infringing activities.

                Charles Duffy and katieoh, you—like myself—crushed AT&T and others when it came to FISA and NSA wiretapping, right?

                • pop top says:

                  @michaelgibbons: “To deduce that since public money is going toward this, the government should decide what you eat and show you what you should eat is a bit scary.”

                  Have you heard of the WIC program? It helps mothers feed their children, and there is a list of things that you can buy with it: cheese, beans, jelly, juice (only 100%), peanut butter, eggs, milk, etc. It puts a limit on the quantity and type you can buy. No one has a problem with it because it’s all healthy food that the kids need, and it helps them with their grocery bills.

                  “Effectively, you’re saying that millions of people can’t be trusted to eat food correctly, so the federal government should help decide.”

                  Effectively, you’re saying that millons of people can’t be trusted to eat food correctly, so the federal government should cut off their food stamps entirely.

                  • michaelgibbons says:

                    @squinko: No, squinko, what I’m saying is that maybe the prices of food wouldn’t be so darn high if we stop subsidizing the purchasing of it.

                    It’s a simple concept which no one here has cared to try to refute.

                    Again, why are college prices so much higher than the ’90s, even? It’s not all inflation. The federal loan programs have expanded and created higher costs as the demand is artifically inflated.

                    You use “cut off the food stamps” as a turn of speech t paint me as cold-hearted, when I have made the case for the pro-food stamp crowd as being the true cold-hearted ones. Food stamps raise the cost of food for everyone, they do not improve overall nutrition compared to someone without stamps, they are infantilizing, and they are not what our federal government was intended to do.

                    • pop top says:

                      @michaelgibbons: I would like to see some actual articles/studies showing direct correlation between rising food prices and food stamp availability.

                    • michaelgibbons says:

                      @squinko: I would like to see articles showing that farm subsidies and food stamps have no effect on the price of food?

                      No mainstreamers acknowledge it, but it’s simple economic fact. What drives prices? Supply and demand.

                      If you give people money for food, you’re increasing the demand.

                      What is so hard about this concept?

                      It’s nearly the same as my college example and why college prices have risen, though supply in regards to food is much more volatile.

                      Google, “The price of food and food stamps” and you’ll find plenty of articles noting the predicament we’re in and how higher food costs are part of the problem with the higher costs to the program and greater enrollment.

                      There’s a reason why junk items haven’t been prohibited, yet. The program has already transformed into a card to protect against fraud and stop the secondary market on food stamps. So why haven’t they prohibited the purchase of fatty foods? The food lobby would never support that as the 30,000,000 EBT eligible-Americans who would have to make difficult choices on whether or not to leave out Oreos would certainly make a dent into Kraft’s revenues. Thus, Kraft would have to lower their price or make cuts as there would be reduced demand.

                      Let’s not pretend for a second that food stamps don’t create higher prices. I’m not sure why it’s a hard concept to understand for many here. Regardless of whether or not we agree on the program, we should at least be cognizant of this fact.

                    • pop top says:

                      @michaelgibbons: I never said they don’t make prices higher. I simply asked you to provide concrete evidence that they do.

                    • michaelgibbons says:

                      @squinko: The concrete evidence is on the price tags in the stores: higher prices.

                      Again, why do you think prices go up for reasons outside of inflation?

                    • pop top says:

                      @michaelgibbons: So you’re saying that you don’t have any studies or articles that show direct correlation between rising food prices and food stamp availability?

                      Repeating something over and over again doesn’t make it true.

                • Charles Duffy says:

                  @michaelgibbons: You’re making some serious stretches here.

                  Wiretapping is compulsory. Accepting food stamps isn’t.

    • jkinatl2 says:

      @michaelgibbons: troll likes troll food.

      • michaelgibbons says:

        @jkinatl2: Isn’t Consumerist the place we bitch and moan about business practices? I EBT cards suck and I shouldn’t have to subsidize others’ food and pay higher prices for my own because of it…so I don’t think I’m the troll.

        What am I supposed to do: be happy that our nation is further becoming dependent on government assistance?

        But, yay, Costco!

    • trujunglist says:

      @michaelgibbons:

      I also would like to guess that you’re a condescending douchebag. That’s a pretty fucking good guess based upon your comments here.

      • michaelgibbons says:

        @trujunglist: What’s condescending are the posters in this thread who want to buy food for the poor, tell them what they can/should eat, and force their concept of what nutritious food/lifestyle is to them.

  11. sonneillon says:

    I don’t know why any company wouldn’t accept food stamps. The government gives money to the company in the amount of the food stamps, and they are more likely to get paid than if the person paid with a check. Just seems silly.

    • XTC46 says:

      @sonneillon: overhead for processing the foodstamps of ebt cards costs money and takes away from profits, especially for a store like costco that takes cash/debit/check/amex only.

      • michaelgibbons says:

        @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: No, everyone here thinks the government getting involved in business somehow saves you money…

      • jkinatl2 says:

        @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: It has been my impression that the cost for setting up and maintaining EBT transactions was not placed on the businesses that accepted them.

        ALDI foods, for example, does not take ANY credit cards, only debit and EBT. There is no impact on their overhead from those transactions, as they do not run through a credit agency.

        I really do hope that the future for all of you who are critical of EBT/food stamps and those who utilize them is as rosy and free of tragedy and hardship as your posts seem to indicate. It would be a bitter pill indeed if, say, a terrible car accident, an illness in the family, or the loss of a job at the absolute worst time forced one of the posters to rely on that which they deem so very beneath them.

        As a poor person myself, I am very aware of how far a person can fall with just the tiniest shadow on an X-ray, or a positive sign on a blood test result.

        Believe me, it’s not all that far from where many, if not most, of the rest of you stand right this very minute.

        • michaelgibbons says:

          @jkinatl2: I find it insulting that you think we dismiss the hardships and struggle with the costs of living that all middle class and poor Americans face.

          To think you know the plight of the poor any better than I (unless you are poor) is utter arrogance.

  12. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Wow, what’s with all the people thinking it’s a bad thing? All kinds of people qualify for food stamps. It’s not only the poor. And of what consequence is it to you what people buy? No one bothers or ridicules you for the canned goods and bulk hot pockets.

    And if you’re thinking that people of lower income who go to Costco may bring along with them the unsavory criminal type, you’re very paranoid. Most people are just regular families trying to make ends meet.

    And if you dislike it so much there, stop going. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. You can stop shopping at Costco.

    • katieoh says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: i don’t think it’s a bad thing, i guess i just don’t see how it would work, given the membership fee.

      it would be awesome if costco would offer some sort of discount on their membership for those who are un/underemployed. then the food stamps thing makes sense. of if those with foodstamps were allowed to shop at costco without a membership.

      • XTC46 says:

        @katieoh: so now in addition to taking a new form of payment, you want them to give their service away as well?

      • michaelgibbons says:

        @katieoh: I really think Ford should give a discount to those who are underemployed—whatever the heck that means.

        You know? Because without a car how do you get a job or get to a job?

        I also really think that Century 21 should just waive closing costs for those who can’t afford a house.

        Geez, you think everyone’s entitled to everything in this country. You don’t understand it, but the entitlement system further separates the elite–that you probably abhor–from the middle class.

        • katieoh says:

          @michaelgibbons: OH YES BECAUSE A CAR IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS A MEMBERSHIP CLUB, OH WOWZERS, I DIDN’T THINK OF THIS, EVERYTHING SHOULD BE FREE*#()@#*)$#()$)#@*(%*#

          good god. it’s fucking costco, you moron. it’s a fucking business. they want to accept those that get foodstamps so they will buy their food at costco instead of the grocery store, so costco can get the profit from the markup on food. clearly by, offering discounted membership [which is, at the end of the day, a negligible amount of money for them] so people would spend their stamps there would allow costco to make more money.

          LOGIC, YOU CAN HAS?!

          • michaelgibbons says:

            @katieoh: Not sure if it was here or Gothamist, but Charles Schumer was after the–yes, I’m being serious–the pancake houses for not using pure, maple syrup.

            I wish I was making this stuff up.

        • katieoh says:

          @michaelgibbons: i apologize for calling you a moron, since i just remembered it’s against the commenting rules. you just have no idea what you’re talking about in this situation, and i misinterpreted ignorance for stupidity.

        • Charles Duffy says:

          @michaelgibbons: “it would be awesome” doesn’t mean “it should be compulsory”.

          Learn to read.

          • michaelgibbons says:

            @Charles Duffy: That’s quite an inference, Charles.

            I understand that she said, “it would be awesome.” I agree. It would be awesome if companies voluntarily pared down their margins to 0. But it’s absurd and I rightfully mocked such an idea.

        • jkinatl2 says:

          @michaelgibbons: Michael, they have mass transit. And some of us have good friends who take us to the doctor, and even stay with us while they carve out pieces of our lungs.

          And yes, there are programs that help us with the cost of a modest one bedroom apartment. If you have misconceptions about medicare, medicaid, section 8 housing or vouchers, and EBT cards, please ask. I do not for a moment think I am the only person here who is familiar with them, and we would all rather help you understand than watch and wince as you diminish us, and yourself.

          There happens to be a Costco less than a mile from where I live. And my best friend and myself went halfsies on a membership. It really was the only way we could justify the membership cost, much less the bulk purchases. That and the fact that I am a pretty good cook.

          That was several years ago, and we both ate healthier and better than people around us who might have relied on food pantries and the like. He had cancer, I had AIDS. And now I do not have a membership, because my friend is dead and I haven’t the heart nor the cash.

          As I indicated, you and a few other posters make many assumptions that I would be happy to clear up. I was perhaps mistaken to think that you were trolling just because your verbiage was insulting and uninformed. I am sorry if that was the case.

          As one consumerist to another, feel free to ask me anything you want about the topic of EBT and how a membership to Costco cold be of serious help to those in a socioeconomic class lower than your own.

          • michaelgibbons says:

            @jkinatl2: Hey, jkinat12, appreciate the civil conversation. katieoh come out gunsablazing when a serious conversation could be had.

            First off, please know that I loathe the EBT program due to its federal nature. This is the libertarian-Constitutionalist-uber conservative inside of me. State programs I can at least somewhat agree to.

            I definitely cede to you on the first hand knowledge of such programs, though will probably disagree with you on the logical of such systems.

            I spoke in superlatives, but certainly understand that nothing is cut and dry in life. But facts are facts. And Americans, unfortunately, are fat and the subsidization of food has only made our nation fatter. A simple review of American history will tell you that.

            My question to you: Do you agree that EBT-eligible Americans could be healthier if they lived on the margins instead of receiving federal funds? I would like to point out how Americans clearly ingest too many calories and burn too few. I would also like to point out how “starving yourself*” is far healthier than eating too much.

            *By this I mean, eating 1500 calories a day. Some fruits and veggies and maybe some whole wheat toast with water and coffee. You can get all the nutrients, easily, and studies show that humans live longer in a lower calorie (than Americans are used to) state.

            • jkinatl2 says:

              @michaelgibbons: as someone who has lobbied as best as I can for a healthier life, I understand the misconception that private charities and organizations are superior to federally funded ones.

              Take, for example, Atlants’s local food banks – specifically, open Hand Atlanta, one of the finest and best examples. Started out as an organization that delivered meals to people with advanced HIV disease, and now serves the community as a whole, with the dual caveats of income limitations and a doctor’s recommendation. It also has a food pantry program, which provides much (roughly half, by it’s own mission statement) of the nutrition an average person needs for a week. This means different things on different weeks, of course, as supplies change.

              There are many, MANY good things about the program. But like most private charities in this economy, it suffers when times are harsh. This is reflected in the quality of the food items it is able to deliver. Much of it is canned, which is often extremely high in sodium and far lower in nutrients that vegetation which is frozen or fresh.

              Which is ironic, since many of the medications that have saved thousands of people with AIDS from death, myself included, wreak havok on the system. Liver, kidney, the ability to process food, are all compromised by the meds themselves. Sometimes as much or more than the virus. Same goes for persons receiving extensive chemotherapy. It also holds true for those with advanced diabetes, the elderly, and many other populations who partake of the program.

              So one one hand, we have access to food that can sustain us. However, this food is, to a large degree, not at all healthy for us. Heart attacks and strokes caused by rampant high blood pressure are sadly common in persons undergoing long term chemotherapy or HIV treatment. But when the alternative is not eating, we rinse what sodium we are able from the canned vegetables, and forge ahead. We sacrifice, of course, nutrients in the process, nutrients that many of us do not absorb well to begin with, as is the nature of our illnesses and the treatments.

              So yes, private charity can be a valuable help. But without at least some ability to procure fresh (or frozen) vegetables, lower fat proteins, and lower sugar/HFCS additives, we who face chronic illness often find ourselves facing different problems than we started with, but equally severe.

              One cannot expect a private food bank to offer optimal nutrition. Even the prestigiosu Open Hand here in Atlanta admits that it is a supplement to existing opportunities, not nearly a replacement.

              What scares me about this is that I am smart. I am able to figure these thigns out, and work with them. Because my “reason” for being in the system is illness based, and to date, my mind has been spared. And I know the hoops I have to jump through in order to maintain a healthy weight, to avoid stroking out, to stave off malabsorption and give my body a fighting chance to live. It really boggles my mind to think of what someone with a diminished capacity must endure, whether they are sick or not.

              The EBT system, every bit as much as medicines and my own self-advocacy, have kept me on top of the ground for a decade longer than I was told. Precisely because it allows me access to a level of nutrition that private charities and institutions simply cannot rely upon.

              Sorry about the long-windedness. Obviously this is a matter rather close to my heart.

              • michaelgibbons says:

                @jkinatl2: If you ran whatever department runs food stamps, what would you change and why?

                • jkinatl2 says:

                  @michaelgibbons: What would I change?

                  Dunno. I would make the process a tiny bit less humiliating. I would create a system that did not punish frugality. If someone does not spend their bank account entirely down each month, their next year’s benefits are reduced. Sort of makes pulling one’s self up an exercise in futility.

                  I would put a far greater emphasis on nutrition counseling and education. But I know that stuff costs money the states mostly do not have. Or more accurately, do not shoose to spend in that arena.

                  But in a world where corporate interests were of no consequence?

                  I would enable EBT/Food stamp purchases to vary when used to buy certain items. Say, you have five dollars in EBT benefits. That could be used to buy five dollars’ worth of Doritos – or eight dollars’ worth of fresh vegetables. Anything to encourage, even reward, healthy choices.

                  That’s just off the top of my head. I would also, I think, strongly encourage those who are capable of helping others to do so, be it nutrition counseling or other volunteer activity. Some of us do this on our own, because we feel compelled to do so. I honestly think it would empower others to an astonishing degree, along with lifting the burden off the state and federal government.

                  I would much rather see a system that encourages and rewards initiative and effort, rather than one that seeks to punish.

                  • michaelgibbons says:

                    @jkinatl2: Interesting ideas, and they are well-intended.

                    However, my issue is that even these good ideas have predictable unintended consequences.

                    If you force companies and stores to do something similar to your $5 is equal to $8 worth of fruit and veggies, what prevents these stores from A) following that–it seems like a headache B) jacking up prices or Frito Lay adjusting their prices—which hurts everyone C) discriminating against EBT people D) leaving the program altogether?

                    In the overall scheme of things, food stamps are a small expense in our bloated federal budget. However, just because it’s largely insignificant doesn’t mean it should be scrutinized.

                    • nakedscience says:

                      @michaelgibbons: You are not very intelligent. Starving yourself is not healthier than eating too many calories. In fact, it is unhealthier to be underweight than it is to be overweight.

                      I cannot believe you just advocated starving. You are an asshole.

                    • michaelgibbons says:

                      @nakedscience: Yes, because you neglected to read my footnote on what I consider starving*. You guys are foaming at the mouth to attack the conservative, and are being ignorant.

                      And calling someone an asshole for non-aggressive posting on a blog shows who the true asshole is.

                      *Did you even bother to see how I said 1500 calories was “starving” in my eyes. I clearly used and noted how I used starving in the contemporary sense. If you think being overweight is healthier than eating 1500 calories a day, I’m curious as to why you think that way?

            • hedonia says:

              @michaelgibbons:

              “My question to you: Do you agree that EBT-eligible Americans could be healthier if they lived on the margins instead of receiving federal funds? I would like to point out how Americans clearly ingest too many calories and burn too few. I would also like to point out how “starving yourself*” is far healthier than eating too much.

              *By this I mean, eating 1500 calories a day. Some fruits and veggies and maybe some whole wheat toast with water and coffee. You can get all the nutrients, easily, and studies show that humans live longer in a lower calorie (than Americans are used to) state. “

              Um… you were saying before that it was infantalizing to restrict food stamps to healthy foods – and now you’re decreeing that it is much better for people to STARVE because they can’t make the right food choices (according to you) if they’re given the means to buy food!

              You’re either a bad troll, forgetting what you already said, or you’re a big fat hypocrite. Either way, I won’t be reading the rest of what you post on this site.

              • michaelgibbons says:

                @hedonia: Look, I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t want this program at all. I was posing a question to Charles.

                Where did I decree anything? I don’t want to force any lifestyle upon anyone.

                You’re making up stuff. I think eating fewer calories is something many Americans would benefit from, but I don’t want to create any program that forces people to follow such a diet.

                I think that Lebron James is better than Kobe Bryant. That doesn’t mean I want a government program to educate Americans on that.

                You seem to be the bad troll for strawmanning and making up points to fit your argument, hedonia.

        • trujunglist says:

          @michaelgibbons:

          No, we just think that PEOPLE DYING ON THE STREETS DUE TO LACK OF FOOD IS BULLSHIT. No one needs a car to live. People do need food.
          You’re an amazing dick. I hope you find yourself needing help one day, because I’m sure you’ll be too high and mighty to take it. Just roll yourself out into the street and sit down and die. Take it like a man and stand by your ideals you silly fuck.
          If I had a banhammer I’d smash it all over your face.

          • michaelgibbons says:

            @trujunglist: You feel high and mighty by trying to help feed everyone, trujunglist. The silly fuck is the one who thinks we can feed everyone with the most nutritious food, and that no one will ever go to sleep with an empty stomach. Until you come to the realization that poverty and hunger has never been fully eradicated, and the best we can hope for as a society is to limit the hunger—we’ll be better off.

      • Charles Duffy says:

        @katieoh: I’ve given Costco memberships to friends, or shared them with friends (can’t give the card to someone else other than a single secondary user, but you can bring them shopping with you).

  13. jsbeagle says:

    While I don’t know much about how food stamps work (although I found out after the fact that I could have received them while in college and working – now that I’m married I’m no longer eligible), it says that Costco will accept them for core food items, not other merchandise.

    Can you normally get things other than FOOD with FOOD STAMPS?

    • jkinatl2 says:

      @jsbeagle: No, you cannot. Nor can you get alcohol, tobacco, toiletries, toothpaste, or household cleaners. Depending on the store’s interpretation of the policy, you might or might not be able to get s “prepared” substance such as a rotisserie chicken, but you can get raw chicken to cook at home, and the spices with which to season the meal.

      EBT, as applies to food stamp purchaseing, is for food items only – and even then, for items which normally cannot be eaten until one is at home, presumably after preparing them.

      Can someone get Doritos and Oreo cookies? Sure. And I suppose some people do. Savvy shoppers, however, load up on seasonings and condiments, then a stable of meats, rice, dried beans and frozen vegetables to create a varied menu that does not negatively impact their health.

      Assuming, of course, that the recipient has the energy or capacity to prepare hsi or her meals from scratch. Many times, I have helped my far sicker friends by making them dinners when they were unable to do so, rather than watch them eat crackers and junk food because that’s all they could manage to prepare.

      Likewise, my own friends have made me dinner when I have been very ill, and have been similarly tempted.

      It really is all about people taking care of one another. And I honestly feel bad for people who feel that they are immune to that responsibility, or that inevitability.

      • Yossarian says:

        @jkinatl2: “No, you cannot. Nor can you get alcohol, tobacco, toiletries, toothpaste, or household cleaners.” Money is fungible. Every dollar you don’t have to spend on food is a dollar you can spend on something else. Anyone on food stamps who buys any of those items is implicitly buying them because they don’t have to spend that money on food. If someone can spend $10 on alcohol they are getting $10 too much in food stamps.

    • nybiker says:

      @jsbeagle: You can’t buy a stereo or dvd player with food stamps. So, only food. Now, what constitutes food?

      Here’s the url:
      [www.fns.usda.gov]
      As of Oct. 1, 2008, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the new name for the federal Food Stamp Program.

      Eligible foods:
      [www.fns.usda.gov]
      There are PDF & Excel files showing eligible and non-eligible foods by name. It appears to be only items that might be confusing to determine.

      Eligible Food Items
      Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:

      Foods for the household to eat, such as:
      – breads and cereals;
      – fruits and vegetables;
      – meats, fish and poultry; and
      – dairy products.
      Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

      In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.

      Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:

      Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco;
      Any nonfood items, such as:

      – pet foods;
      – soaps, paper products; and
      – household supplies.
      Vitamins and medicines.

      Food that will be eaten in the store.
      Hot foods.

  14. Ronin-Democrat says:

    ahhhhhh the ill informed masses.
    there is no expense to costco because the state covers the cost of the equipment…. unlike credit card companies and their terminals and just incase you didn’t know, food stamps now come on a credit card form so you won’t even know the guy in front of you is paying with them .

    The heat is on because costco is opening in Manhattan -NYC to the uninformed- and the neighborhood is low income.

    As far as “poor” people being able to afford a membership….
    GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR COLLECTIVE ASSES. believe it or not there are plenty of poor people that will see the benefit of of the upfront cost vs the savings on everyday items like toilet paper personal care items and clothes. And worse case they share with a neighbor -upper income singles do it because of the large sizes that items come packaged-

  15. sponica says:

    While I don’t have a problem with this…I just worry that those on food stamps will get sucked into the costco trap of buying stuff you may not need because it’s there (I’M LOOKING AT YOU COSTCO SEAFOOD WEEKEND). Also, any Individual Costco member should look at the unit price when they’re shopping. Make sure you’re actually SAVING money. Heck, bring along the local supermarket sales flyer and see if it’s just cheaper to bulk up on whatever’s on sale at the supermarket. You save money AND you avoid having the flavor oatmeal, juice, popsicle, etc that nobody wants to eat from the multipack.
    Almost everyone in my family who goes to Costco just uses it for milk (seriously my aunt buys 6-8 gallons every 2 weeks but she has two refrigerators). Costco milk prices are usually the best in town. Olive oil prices are usually pretty good.

    • jkinatl2 says:

      @sponica: You do have a valid point. Costco and other warehouse clubs may or may not be the best deal in town. And many people with limited incomes do not necessarily have a lot of storage space for bulk items. I often joke with my friends that I never really left college, since my apartment is only maybe thirty percent bigger than my old dorm room. An ottoman made from toilet paper is hard to justify.

      It’s incumbent upon people who really ARE watching their pennies to look at the unit price, and calculate the cost of driving to two or three stores to get the best deals.

      I have often been amazed at the prices at Costco, and not ina good way. But as a supplement to other venues, it can be really valuable for the throfty (whether you one is thrifty by choice or necessity). As was indicated earlier, the cost of EBT transactions is not passed along to the business, so profit margins are not impacted. I honestly do not know why Costco has been the holdout in accepting EBT transactions until now. I know Sam’s Club does it, and I believe BJ’s club does as well.

      Are there people who abuse the system? Oh yeah. Seriously yeah. A high sense of entitlement can and does exist at every socioeconomic level.God/dess knows I’ve witnessed a lot of THAT.

      But I suspect that most people aren’t going to do that. I suspect more people than not are just trying to keep things going for another month, another day. Feed their kids, hope their car doesn’t blow up,hope their medical treatments work, and that the side effects don’t turn them into another kind of Consumerist story, and maybe, just maybe, scavenge a tiny bit of dignity at the end of the day.

  16. sponica says:

    HAHAHAHA! I love the hyperlink…yes it’s comforting to know you can’t use food stamps to buy coffins.

  17. jkinatl2 says:

    Wow, I was really initially scared of this thread. Mainly because I am sometimes helpless to avoid typing. But what could have been a flame war (complete with me holding a torch) has turned into a seriously educational experience. Other sites would have had moderators disemvowel, lock the thread, or otherwise discourage the natural progression.

    Its cool to see that, once in a while, given time and effort, people can actually talk like human beings on the internet.

    Thanks, Consumerist. And thanks especially to Michael, who has made me reconsider some of my knee-jerk-edness.

    That having been said, I am still not getting a Costco membership anytime soon, most likely.

  18. MercerCh00x says:

    Is Costco a company that operates like makro?
    [www.makro.co.uk]

    • jamar0303 says:

      @MercerCh00x: Yes. Or more accurately, like its larger cousin Metro (which I discovered by chance when looking for a Costco alternative in China).

  19. emis says:

    From 1999 to 2009 I’ve watched the Costco clientele go from small business owner to wal-mart shopper.

    Accepting food stamps is not a surprise and is unfortunately a natural progression in their model.

    I went in there yesterday (weekday) at 2PM for the first time in 3 years and was amazed to see that the place is now filled with masses of middle aged women and the elderly.

    I literally visit there once a year at most, and it used to be that the single visit or two would justify the $35-50 membership based on savings on stuff like paper towels, batteries, etc…

    When I started going they used to have one or two TVs, one or two PCs, stuff you might need for business… now it’s just a “low overhead” warehouse store catering to consumers and is filled with consumer oriented stuff and also happens to have some bulk food items.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @emis: Cause middle aged women and the elderly don’t need food, right? Only small businesses?

      As long as you can go there and get what you need at the price you want, why is it such a gripe that other people shop there as well? And as you said, you shop there once a year – how is a once a year observation indicative of Costco going down the drain in clientele?

      My Costco is about 95% food items and bulk necessities like paper towels and dish rags. There are two aisles for books, one or two small aisles for DVDs and there are two aisles for printers, computers, and another two for TVs. The rest of the entire store is FOOD.

      Why do you care that it’s consumer-oriented? Is it making you feel less than special now that other people are allowed into the super secret warehouse club?

    • sponica says:

      @emis: in all fairness most of the consumers you see could be on business accounts. I’m fairly certain my mother is on my grandparents small business account….since her card bears the name of their old business

  20. thrashanddestroy says:

    Time for me to find a new job, I’ve already had it with Looney Toons jacket-wearing members getting uppity with me when I tell them we don’t offer financing options.

  21. djpandemic says:

    They had better not expand this to other states… I really don’t want to deal with the additional riff raff clogging up the aisles at the free sample stations.

  22. catnapped says:

    According to the flyer I got in the mail from BJ’s (giving away those free 60 day memberships again), they already take EBT cards.

  23. mwc5446 says:

    Its a sad day when Costco/Sams/BJ’s etc start taking Food Stamps.