You’d think food stamps are simply a safety net for poor, hungry Americans, but the truth is that big corporations like Walmart are getting richer off of the system. Electronic Benefit Transfer cards — i.e., food stamps — not only help Walmart continue to pay unlivable wages, but also help them sell more of their own products.
When most of us imagine where food stamps go, we picture poor families or disabled adults. But the broke and hungry are really just middle men (or women), with the money ultimately ending up in food-sellers’ pockets. Very often, those pockets belong to Walmart.
Per USDA regulation, the public is prohibited from accessing documents that tell us how much individual companies profit from food stamps — and the corporations themselves aren’t talking. But we do know that Walmart gets more food-stamp dollars than any other business in the country. And with Uncle Sam forking out $76 billion per year through the EBT card system, it’s a safe bet that Walmart gets a hefty chunk of change.
The Secret Life of a Food Stamp, from NPR’s Marketplace and Slate, reports that Walmart stores stock up for EBT payout days because that’s when sales spike. So the night before the benefit transfer kicks in, they fill the shelves with bread, milk and other staples, ready for the rush.
Walmart’s Low Wages Put People on Food Stamps
What makes all of this especially twisted is the fact that, by paying minimum wage and denying full-time hours, Walmart helps make sure that its workers need food stamps to survive. So the government subsidizes the company’s unfair wage policies, and then directly hands them money on EBT day.
Not pissed off enough yet? According to a 2013 study , Walmart spent almost $8 billion last year buying back its own stocks. Had the company spent that money on its workers instead, each employee could have gotten a raise of almost $6 per hour — enough to get most of them off of food stamps without affecting store prices.
But Walmart’s priorities don’t lie with the employees; they lie in their bank accounts. So company honchos spend their money making sure that their heirs — already richer than any human deserves to be — will only grow wealthier. And they can thank you, me and every other taxpayer for subsidizing their empire.