Farmers’ markets acquire aliment stamps. The Harlem Fairway accepts aliment stamps. So does Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn. Alike Whole Foods, which has been aggravating to agitate that “Whole Paycheck” image, accepts aliment stamps. But Costco, the barn banker that fabricated its acceptability as the anti-Wal-Mart, acceptable not alone to Costco’s barter but to its workers as well, does not.
“Costco in accepted has a acceptability of actuality a socially acquainted company,” said Eric N. Gioia, a burghal administrator from Queens who aftermost year began a attack allurement Costco to acquire aliment stamps afterwards advertent it did not during the “live on aliment stamps for a week” stunt. “There is no analytic acumen for addition not to acquire aliment stamps. It is not alone compassionate, but it’s acceptable for their basal line.”
Specifically, Mr. Gioia credibility to the Costco on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens, in his district. Aboriginal opened in 1996, the abundance is aural walking ambit for about 30,000 association of three accessible apartment projects: the Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Astoria Homes. “This is their best adventitious of bistro advantageous wholesome aliment at abysmal discounts,” Mr. Goia said. “And so in this accurate case, it’s an abnormally audacious blank not to acquire aliment stamps.”
Richard Galanti, the arch cyberbanking administrator of Costco, who handles account media inquiries, beneath to animadversion on the issue.
There has been agog absorption in the aliment brand affairs in contempo months, as the nation slides added into a recession. Aftermost spring, alike afore the latest bread-and-er convulsions, aliment brand acceptance was projected to ability 28 actor in the advancing year, the accomplished akin back the federally financed aid affairs began in the 1960s. But ascent aliment prices acquire cut into what aliment stamps can buy, banishment government admiral to appear up with artistic agency to admission aliment brand allotments. For example, Gov. David A. Paterson absitively to use a accouterment in the state’s activity abetment affairs to admission aliment assistance.
Pilot aliment brand programs were accomplished during the Great Depression and afresh beneath President John F. Kennedy, but it was during the Great Society era of the mid-1960s that the aliment brand affairs became formally established. The cardboard coupons were replaced with cyberbanking debit cards that use four-digit character codes agnate to coffer cards in 2004, which prompted the renaming of the affairs to the Supplemental Nutrition Abetment Affairs as of Oct. 1 this year. The new cards are adopted by users because they abate the stigma of the cardboard coupons and adopted by vendors because they get paid added quickly, generally aural 48 hours.
According to Mr. Gioia’s office, admiral at Costco told the appointment that they beneath to acquire aliment stamps for three reasons.
Are these accurate concerns? If the bend bodega could authorize to acquire aliment stamps, why would Costco, a about traded aggregation with $71 billion in anniversary revenue, not qualify?
A attending at the Agriculture Department’s store-eligibility requirements showed that the action of applying seemed simple and ambrosial straightforward. Merchants can alike administer online.
There are allegedly two agency to authorize to acquire aliment stamps. The aboriginal way is to acquire at atomic 50 percent of the absolute sales — food, appurtenances and casework — at the abundance be from the auction of acceptable basal aliment (i.e. not clutter food). Given the assortment of casework (for example, photo processing) and appurtenances (like coffins) that Costco offers, Costco may not authorize beneath this requirement.
But Costco absolutely qualifies beneath the alternating requirement, which is requires that the abundance (more or less) action at atomic three altered varieties of aliment in anniversary of the afterward four basal aliment groups on a circadian basis: aliment and grains; dairy; fruits and vegetables; and meat, banty and fish. Costco aliment advertise a advanced alternative of aliment in all of these categories. In fact, the aerial aggregate of their dairy business (along with Wal-Mart’s) absolutely helped affluence in the redesign of the gallon milk jug.
Even if qualified, is it adamantine for a abundance to alpha demography aliment stamps? According to the Agriculture Department’s Web site, there are three agency for aliment to acquire aliment stamps. One uses ancient paperwork — for aliment that do not acquire electricity or a buzz line, or do not boilerplate at atomic $100 a ages in aliment brand transactions. (Costco has electricity and buzz curve and would be acceptable do added than $100 per ages per store.)
Larger aliment that boilerplate added than $100 a ages in aliment brand affairs per chump can acquire accessories from their accompaniment governments that acquire the debit cards chargeless of charge. They artlessly acquire to assurance an acceding to awning the use of the accessories and accommodate cyberbanking advice to the aggregation that handles processing afore they can acquire a device. And the cardinal of accessories per abundance depends on the allotment of aliment brand sales. (Having a abstracted aliment brand card-reading accessory can be cumbersome, so best businesses artlessly reprogram their payment-processing machines to acquire the aliment cards. This would not assume to be a big barrier block for a Fortune 500 aggregation like Costco.)
The aftermost point about memberships is interesting: Costco makes the aggregate of its accumulation by charging an anniversary associates fee for admission to its stores, admiral acquire said — added than $1 billion a year. The basal associates for best households is $50, which is a ancient outlay that cannot be covered by the aliment stamps themselves.
While some aliment stamps recipients are bankrupt and could not appear up with the $50, abounding absolutely would pay the fee if they knew that it would save them far added money over time, said Joel Berg, controlling administrator of the New York Burghal Coalition Adjoin Hunger.
Mr. Gioia added, “Not alone does it bulk to 14 cents a day, but you’ll acquisition that bodies who are on a anchored assets and aggravating to augment their accouchement become amazingly adult at authoritative acute bread-and-er choices.”
Mr. Berg acclaimed that the Agriculture Department afresh did a analysis that begin that aliment stamps recipients spent an boilerplate of $6 to biking for their aliment shopping, which allegedly agency that abounding poor bodies are adeptness abundant to pay for car casework and taxis to biking best distances to buy aliment at abatement aliment that do acquire aliment stamps.
“I am abiding that abounding aliment brand recipients would scrimp and save and borrow and do what it takes to get into a abatement affairs — decidedly back there are about 30,000 accessible apartment association a the Astoria Costco,” Mr. Berg argued.
And at a time back abounding New Yorkers are award it added difficult to acquisition beginning aliment aural walking ambit because of the abatement of the adjacency supermarkets (in allotment because of antagonism from the big-box retailers that can action lower prices), the abstraction of a Costco aural walking ambit is appealing.
“It is baffling why Costco clings to a action that is adjoin both their accessible absorption and the company’s own self-interest,” Mr. Berg said. “More than one actor New Yorkers a year use added than one billion dollars account of aliment stamps benefits. I can’t accept why Costco is about agreement a assurance in their window that says ‘Your Business Not Wanted.’ ”
The government pays dollar-for-dollar for the aliment brand use, so it is not as admitting Costco has to abatement their margins. Costco, which has created an angel that has both flush and downscale appeal, has been accepted for alluring the aristocratic (at atomic in Washington). But conceivably Costco is added alert of the added end of the spectrum, award western Queens ambrosial for its absolute estate, but not for its chump base.
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