A receipt allegedly found in the parking lot of a grocery store – and confirmed genuine by store managers – reveals a shocking level of luxury purchases made with state-provided food stamp funds.
The receipt from Angeli’s County Market in Menominee, Mich., shows the customer used food stamps to purchase $141.78 worth of Diet Mountain Dew soda, lobster and porterhouse steaks.
The general manager of Angeli Foods, Mike Jankovich, acknowledged reluctantly to columnist John Schneider of Michigan’s Lansing State Journal that the receipt was real.
“I’ve been hearing from lots of people about this,” Jankovich told Schneider. “They’re mostly people who don’t understand how this can happen.”
Jankovich insisted, however, that the purchase is technically legal under Michigan’s Bridge Card food stamps program and that his staff had no right to refuse the sale, even if buying live lobster and expensive steaks might seem a wasteful use of welfare funds.
Asked if the receipt surprised him, Jankovich said, “Yeah, it’s usually not this blatant.”
Schneider also reports a discussion with a Michigan Department of Human Services spokesperson, who told the columnist the state was aware of the receipt and is conducting an investigation.
“While federal guidelines allow for food assistance to be used to buy those items, these purchases go against the intent of the program, which is to provide help to those who are truly needy,” DHS spokeswoman Gisgie Gendreau said in a statement. “The department is currently reviewing all of our policies to ensure that we continue to help those who need assistance, but not those who are trying to game the system.”
Gendreau continued, “We encourage anyone who suspects fraud or abuse of the system to report it by calling (800)222-8558 or on our website at www.michigan.gov/dhs.”