The Walmart Food Stamps Stampede Is Pretty Sad [Opinion]

Black Friday Walmart glitch affects several states

From when the Walmart food stamps story first blipped onto our radar Sunday night, it was such a sad story for such a large bunch of reasons.

In case you missed it, a Walmart food stamps glitch for a small window of time over the weekend enabled SNAP recipients in a small swath of the South to go crazy with food stamps, purchasing all the food they could carry in locations of the massive retailer’s stores in states like Louisiana.

And if you’ve seen the Walmart “food stamps stampede” videos, reaction to the EBT glitch was one of those things that sort of evidences the old cliche about seeing things not how they are, but how you are — for all players involved.

To believe the people going “crazy” with food stamp spending in a Louisiana Walmart were behaving fraudulently and immorally during the EBT glitch is to believe a progressively less plausible series of concepts — one, that a number of people receiving food stamp benefits neither need nor deserve them, two, that all who do receive them are borderline criminals, and three, that if you’re poor enough to meet the Dickensian guidelines to qualify, that you yourself would be able to somehow resist “stocking up” even if it meant breaking the rules for a night.

As this is an opinion piece, I can truly say as a lifelong suburban white girl that all the food stamp hate puzzles the hell out of me. I entirely cop to this perhaps being a result of privilege — the little I’ve seen of use of assistance has been people who are disabled and it makes me grateful that there are safety nets, however frayed, to catch the people who are unable to work enough to survive.

Sure, the Walmart food stamps glitch video shows something inherently wrong… people taking things that don’t belong to them. But if you’ve been lucky enough to never have your kid go hungry, how could you judge that sort of “theft?” And if you have watched your child be deprived, how can you say you wouldn’t do the same?

What it probably boils down to is how you see people on assistance in general — and we know factually that unemployment remains high into the years following the recession, and one in seven Americans qualifies for food assistance, or SNAP. That is a lot of food insecure people walking among us.

Above, you can watch the Walmart food stamps glitch video again… but what do you really see if you look without your preconceived notions? Is it really likely all the people who qualify for SNAP could make enough money working low wage jobs, or do you think maybe the issue is not food stamp recipients, but our continually flagging economy?