Emily Cassulo

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Video: Food Stamp Recipients have Options for Thanksgiving

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Thanksgiving is right around the corner and some residents may be getting a head start on what they’re buying for the big meal – including food stamp recipients.

Local cashiers told WCBI they’re not limited much on what they can buy.

Raquel Palmer has worked at Express Mart #3 on Main Street for four years, and says she’s seen people abuse the food stamp system at her store.

“You do have certain people who want to try to get other stuff that they’re not supposed to get, but we follow our guidelines and it’s only groceries, food items,” she said.

And they have plenty of options.

Palmer says those with EBT cards can purchase any food or drink, except for hot foods and alcohol.

That also means they can purchase junk food – like candy, or soda and energy drinks.

“It’s best to use it for what you really need it for because like I said, the way things are going, you really don’t know how long it’s going to be around,” Palmer said.

The federal government already made cuts to food stamp benefits earlier this month.

Now some say there should be more limits on what they can buy.

“I think that’s eventually what it needs to be because we do need a healthier lifestyle around here anyway. Certain restrictions I think toward the healthier meals would be a good idea,” Palmer said.

But state representative Gary Chism says it would be too hard for the state legislature to make any changes, unless they do it at the federal level.

“I mean, which are you going to put on the prohibited list, which are you not? So I really think there’s no appetite for us to do that in the legislature this particular year,” Chism said.

Change or no change, Palmer just wants people to quit abusing the system.

“If you do the right thing, an EBT card is very good for a family who needs the groceries. That’s what it’s basically for,” Palmer said. “You shouldn’t abuse it.”

Chism says the state legislature may not have discussed making changes to what food stamp recipients can buy, but they have talked about who should qualify for the EBT program.