Caribbean immigrants using food stamps to ship food to family back home

An unconventional food-stamp practice has been occurring for months, perhaps years in the U.S. It has been discovered immigrants from the Caribbean region, including Haiti have been using their food-stamp allotments to send food to family back home.


Defrauders use their food-stamp debit cards to purchase food items impossible to find, or afford in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Haiti. They spend months filling 50-gallon barrels with $2,000 worth of food staples. The barrels aren't cheap, costing about $40. An additional $70 is required to ship the barrels to Haiti, a three-week journey. Even immigrants who can't get food stamps save for months on end to fill a barrel with essential food items to send back home.

Government officials are incensed cheaters are exploiting food-stamp benefits to feed their families back home, when Americans are going hungry. The US Department of Agriculture, administrator of the program, is pressuring states to fine and/or imprison food-stamp defrauders.

Immigrants, though, see no harm in the practice because it's about family. It would go against their moral code not to send food home. But U.S. policy makers say the purpose of food stamps is being hi-jacked, excluding starving Americans from their due. One policy analyst put it succinctly: "This is not intended as a form of foreign aid."

But one may ask, what is wrong with sharing what you have with family who has not? It goes against the grain of human decency not to.

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