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Though “food stamp president” may not be the kindest term circling around lately, there’s no denying the number of people who have benefited from the program in recent years.About 21 million households took advantage of food stamps in 2011, up nearly 10 million from 2007, according to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This nearly accounted for an average monthly participation of 45 million individuals in 2011.
To deal with the rise in food stamp use, many supermarket chains have adjusted their schedules and policies to accommodate recipients.
Supervalu Inc.’s Save-A-Lot grocery chain started opening some of its doors at midnight to match the hour when cash is loaded on food stamp cards.
Save-A-Lot spokesperson Chon Tomlin says while adjusting hours to serve people on food stamps is not the company policy, its branches often make decisions to serve the people of their specific communties.
Family Dollar Store, Inc. began accepting food stamps at its chains in 2010, Bloomberg reports. And three years ago, Walmart similarly began to make adjustments based on when shoppers timed their trips, either because of government assistant programs or their paycheck cycles, says Greg Rossiter, a Walmart spokesperson.
Some food stamp recipients have used their cards to purchase goodies at Starbucks, however, the money is meant to be put toward fresh produce, meat and dry goods.
With prices on these “budget foods” shooting up recently, consumers have been taking advantage of whatever deals they can find. In 2010, they spent $54.8 billion (85 per cent) in food stamp money at large chains, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (via Bloomberg).
20-one per cent of beneficiaries rushed to supermarkets on the first day they received their benefits, leading chains like Save-A-Lot to highlight discounts on meat products early in the month.