NY Food Stamp Recipients Are Shipping Welfare-Funded Groceries to Relatives in Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti

Kate Briquelet and Isabel Vincent, New York Post, July 21, 2013

Food stamps are paying for trans-Atlantic takeout—with New Yorkers using taxpayer-funded benefits to ship food to relatives in Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Welfare recipients are buying groceries with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and packing them in giant barrels for the trip overseas, The Post found.

The practice is so common that hundreds of 45- to 55-gallon cardboard and plastic barrels line the walls of supermarkets in almost every Caribbean corner of the city.


The United States spent $522.7 million on foreign aid to the Caribbean last fiscal year, government data show.

Still, New Yorkers say they ship the food because staples available in the States are superior and less costly than what their families can get abroad.

“Everybody does it,” said a worker at an Associated Supermarket in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn. “They pay for it any way they can. A lot of people pay with EBT.”

Customers pay cash for the barrels, usually about $40, and typically ship them filled with $500 to $2,000 worth of rice, beans, pasta, canned milk and sausages.

Workers at the Pioneer Supermarket on Parkside Avenue and the Key Food on Flatbush Avenue confirmed the practice.

They said food-stamp recipients typically take home their barrels and fill them gradually over time with food bought with EBT cards.

When the tubs are full, the welfare users call a shipping company to pick them up and send them to the Caribbean for about $70. {snip}


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