Costco to Accept Food Stamps Nationally

October 29th, 2009 · 15 Comments

You may remember a while back when I posted about Costco doing a test run of accepting food stamps in their Queens and Brooklyn locations.  Well, that went well enough for them to decide to roll it out nationally.

Originally, before testing the market, Costco had thought that there would not be a great deal of Costco shopper that were food stamp recipients because of the membership fees.  But as CEO Jim Sinegal has said: “People who were in good shape financially all of the sudden are needing some assistance.”  And plenty of customers have contacted Costco to say they are using food stamps.  Once the software was in place to accept food stamps in New York, it became relatively easy to roll out the program nationally, according to Sinegal. At present, Costco accepts food stamps in nine stores, mostly on the East Coast and in El Centro, Calif.

So, despite their earlier hesitation, they will be begin accepting food stamps at all 410 US locations with more than half of those being able to accept them by Thanksgiving.  Costco is working with state food stamp systems to roll out the program, beginning in hard-hit areas like Michigan and the central valley of California.  Costco also must identify which items in their stores can be purchased using food stamps; milk and vegetables in, Coach bags and Baccarat crystal not so much.

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15 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 katrina // 2010.04.29 at 6:57 pm

    Hey we all pay taxes one way or another and we’re all entitled to help in our own damn country. I have food stamps now too and its not like we’re standing in line coupon after coupon. Its a plastic card that you swipe just like your dear debit card. How are you or anyone else in line near or around you to know you are paying with the EBT? Its all being paid for so the stores are gaining. I have seen plenty of “those types of people” with all kinds of money yet look and act trashy. Some of the poorest people have the highest class and manners. Its just so easy to stereotype someone who appears “wealthy” or “poor” You must have nothing to do in your life besides think, well the EBT shoppers can go in Costco now better cancel my account, wow that is sad. We pay our taxes, look for jobs, or work what we can we have EARNED this extra help. Its all purchased goods like anyone else out there shopping. How does this really “hurt” you? Pretty sure a fog horn does not go off every time someone uses their EBT card, get over yourself HotwasabiPeas.

  2. 2 Wowza // 2010.03.03 at 10:31 pm

    I went to see my caseworker the other day and she said that a little more than HALF of franklin county (Columbus, Ohio) is receiving food stamp assistance.

  3. 3 gloria== // 2009.12.08 at 3:39 pm

    HotWasabiPeas I take it that your very very young because you sound stuipid… Very stuipid or maybe it was only a bad joke that’s not funny whatever the case please hurry up and grow up . Comment NOT HOT. What’s going on in the world is enough without rude little girls who have not experienced life yet making comments on things that make them sound stuipid. Please forgive her she has no brain. And if the mirror was pointed right back sweetie you would not survive….

  4. 4 Momofonemasterofnone // 2009.11.05 at 10:29 pm

    I work inside Costco’s and can tell you that there are a plenty of customers that somehow come up with memberships and have very little social graces……poor or rich. I can’t stand nasty people regardless of their social class. Make sure you mention this when you are in line at the food bank in line because your company downsized. Things aren’t easy when you have a mirror pointed at you.

  5. 5 shelly // 2009.11.03 at 2:32 am

    And to you Rick… I am a well-educated, intelligent person who has come upon hard times by the recent loss of my job. I have been looking for a job to no avail. I am quite skilled for many jobs, however, I do not speak Spanish and many of the jobs that I am highly qualified for require that I be bi-lingual in Spanish. It does’nt matter than I can speak Arabic, French and some Hindi. People like you disgust me. I have good family values and you would never guess by looking at me that I am on food stamps! Don’t be so fast to judge a book by it’s cover.

  6. 6 shelly // 2009.11.03 at 2:25 am

    “Those kind of I people”. I lost my job recently and it is the first time I HAVE EVER BEEN ON FOOD STAMPS!~ and not by choice. I dont like shopping with “your kind of people”. Snobby, uppity and think they are better than everyone else. Maybe you should stomp your little stilettos down to Costco and get a refund on that membership !

  7. 7 Chris // 2009.11.02 at 3:18 pm

    HotWasabiPeas–I totally agree with you.

  8. 8 Robin // 2009.11.02 at 1:52 pm

    Years ago I knew someone who turned out to be “‘rich white trash”, and it showed me how “class” has nothing to do with financial situation or ethnic background.

    Getting almost run over by a upper middle class kid on Heeley’s can ruin the shopping experience. It’s up to a store to make sure people understand what is acceptable behavior and enforce it.

    As for Costco on a budget, I think people are put off by the idea of paying $50 to be allowed to shop. You think that $50 will eat up all your savings.

    In my case I love smoked salmon, including lox. It’s one of the few ways I can get myself to eat fish. At least fish that isn’t canned or fried. I joke that my membership pays for itself just in the salmon I buy. LOL

    For those on a budget, extended families or close neighbors can buy in bulk together. Buy a two-pack of ketchup and split the cost. $8 may seem a lot for just apples, but that same bag can be split between two or three families and you’re only spending a few dollars for quality produce. The same with large packs of canned goods or even boxes of eggs.

    Costco may carry high end items but their items are not marked up the way some might expect in a ‘better’ store. I’ve compared prices between Costco and BJ’s and expect for the occasional item here and there, prices are comparable. I actually do better on paper goods at BJ’s.

    These are tough times for a lot of people, and getting through them may take a little creativity, food stamps or not.

  9. 9 Rick // 2009.11.02 at 1:44 pm

    I think he just meant that there are undeniably A LOT of people who have a real lack of class, ettiquette, and self worth that tend to almost always be on the public assistance train and game the system instead of actually getting off their butt to try to better themselves. My own sister is one of them and it disgusts me. I don’t want people like this in MY community either. I prefer neighbors with good family values, good work ethic, and who care about things other than just themselves on some occasions. If you think the majority of people on public assistance don’t fall into this category then you’re kidding yourself and you need to actually take the time to visit one of your county offices where people apply/manage their status – even if for just 10 minutes. And yes you really CAN get an idea of what someones story is just by observing them for a few minutes.

  10. 10 Mister Wilson // 2009.10.29 at 10:10 pm

    Sometimes people are just incapable of thought that is both compassionate and rational. And then there’s HotWasabiPeas, who is incapable of thought.

    But if it means more people can get more buying power for their food stamp dollar, good.

  11. 11 Peter // 2009.10.29 at 10:06 pm

    Wow HotWasabiPeas,

    I can’t wait for people like you to cancel your Costco membership. I bet you’re the type of customer who returns half-eaten food and complains that it was no good. Or, you drink an entire bottle of wine and returns the empty bottle, saying the wine had no legs.
    When you cancel your membership, I forsee darkness lifting from the store.

    On another note, I wonder if Costco will actually experience more business due to the food stamps or if administrative costs will be high.

  12. 12 Emily // 2009.10.29 at 8:35 pm

    I’ll just ditto Clue above.

  13. 13 Clue // 2009.10.29 at 1:07 pm

    This is a good thing all around. It’s good for Costco’s bottom line, especially now in this economy and it’s good for all of us as taxpayers. Regardless of how one feels about food stamps in general, using them at Costco ensures that in general, people are getting better value for those dollars. It also means that other grocers can’t just assume that they will get that market share anymore. Hopefully that means increased competition there too, which benefits all of us as well.

    And HotWasabiPeas…exactly who are “those types of people”? The millions of people who have who have lost their jobs in this horrid economy? People who are disabled due to accidents or illness and unable to work? There but the grace of your chosen higher power, go YOU. But then, I’m sure you didn’t mean for that to come across as bigoted and judgmental as it sounded, especially in these economic times.

  14. 14 HotWasabiPeas // 2009.10.29 at 12:55 pm

    Oh great…time to cancel my membership. I happily pay for membership at Costco precisely so I can get away from having to shop with those types of people. ARGG!

  15. 15 Nabeela // 2009.10.29 at 12:08 pm

    Lol…..love the last line 😉

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