To the editor:
I have a few points for a solution to the food part of the EBT problem:
1. Separate the food and household goods (toiletries, cleaning products, etc.) from other assistance.
2. There would be one card issued per family per address with a picture ID, address and how many people (adults and children) the card is issued for. It is very important that the state can verify that the number of people the person is applying for live at this address. The state would have to set guidelines for special circumstances such as more than one family living at the same address.
3. The state could consult a nutritionist at pre-determined intervals to make up lists from different food groups for the needs of the varying groups. The card holder would choose from the list to satisfy their family’s individual tastes and eliminate food waste.
4. There would be one state employee to standardize the amount of goods each card holder needs. This can be determined by the amount of people and square footage of the apartment or house. If more is needed the card holder would have to apply with the reason why.
5. There would be one distribution center in each of the minor urban and surrounding suburban areas and two or more if needed in the major urban areas. These centers would be operated by the private sector and have reception areas. They would only be able to fill orders and are not intended to be supermarkets.
6. Only the card holder would be able to arrive at these centers with their issued card. After verified confirmation of their photo ID, the card and the card holder’s list of products would be given to authorized personnel (either state or private). This person would have a paper printout of the recipients for the week and would be responsible for recording when the products were picked up. If there is any discrepancy, the card would be immediately confiscated and the problem resolved with a supervisor.
7. If transportation is not available to the card holder, a state-approved taxi service would be available. The taxi driver would give a form to the card holder which would then be filled out by authorized personnel and then given back to the taxi driver. The taxi company would then remit these forms for payment.
8. The centers and all employees would be privatized. The exception would be authorized personnel so that they could have access to the state database.
The advantages to this system are that there wouldn’t be any more selling of these cards for other than their intended purpose. The recipients will be eating more healthily because of the elimination of unhealthy snacks and drinks. It creates more jobs for the private sector. It saves the state money because these distribution centers will go out to bid and they can buy in bulk.
In closing, I would like to think that this would handle a big part of EBT abuse. The abuse of EBT cards for cash and other unintended purposes after the food equation is removed from the debate.
Thank you for your consideration.