Editorial: SNAP users should have to face justice

EBTcarderror.jpgPut yourself in the shoes of somebody who needs government assistance to purchase groceries. If it weren’t for your Electronic Benefit Transfer card, you wouldn’t be able to purchase enough food for your family to eat. If you did, then other bills would go unpaid.

Now imagine that you are checking out at your local grocery store only to find that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is experiencing a glitch and you cannot purchase your groceries. In a mix of despair, anger and sadness, you go home, perhaps with only the bare essentials.

Days later, you return to the store and find that another glitch has occurred. This time, every card has an unlimited balance. Would you take advantage of the opportunity?

Seventeen states experienced these two glitches with their EBT programs, and Texas was one of them. Many people found their cards unusable only to find an unlimited balance at a later date. The government has a contract with Xerox to run this program, and the glitch occurred on Xerox’s part.

“Re-starting the EBT system required time to ensure service was back at full functionality,” Xerox spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer said in an emailed statement to the Boston Herald.
The New York Daily News reported that many EBT users packed carts full of groceries.

Grocery stores across the affected states lost a lot of money, and smartphones captured pictures of empty shelves that had been cleared by people taking armfuls of food.

Once people figured out that the glitch had been resolved, they abandoned their carts full of food and left the stores.

Christians are called to feed the hungry and to take care of the poor, which makes this a very touchy issue.

Unfortunately, theft is theft, and the people that exploited the glitch in the system need to be held responsible for their actions.

There is a negligible difference between a person going into a grocery store to steal food and a person that goes into a grocery store and exploits a glitch to get free food. In both cases, the grocery store isn’t being compensated for its product.

Knowingly exploiting a technological glitch is a form of theft. Taxpayers’ money should not be used to remedy this situation. The taxpayers aren’t the ones at fault.

There is a lot of spite from people that pay into the SNAP program. Some see EBT users as burdens that hurt the economy, but this is directly contradictory to any form of charity.
The reality is that a lot of these people have fallen on hard times and need the assistance to get back on their feet.

Sure, there is abuse and fraud in the system, but that is going to be a reality with any government program in a nation as big as ours.

Some see especially harsh penalties as justice for SNAP abusers that stole food, but malevolence shouldn’t get in the way of justice.

The people that committed theft via the EBT glitch should be prosecuted as if they were regular citizens and their financial situation should be completely left out of the equation.

This whole situation reflects desperation among the poor, even in the United States, when it comes to food. There are many people around us that are experiencing hunger, and we can ease their suffering through charitable donations.

While everyone that committed theft should be held legally accountable, we should be able to forgive them and recognize their need.