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Report shows food stamps used in ‘vacation’ spots

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginians who receive food stamp benefits spent $52.5 million last year at stores outside the state, according to a report requested by Delegate Jill Upson, R-Jefferson.

West Virginia residents used their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) debit cards to make $1 million in purchases in both Florida and North Carolina, $580,000 in South Carolina, and $343,000 in Minnesota.

Food stamp recipients in the Mountain State also rang up their cards — albeit for significantly smaller amounts — in Alaska, California, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands, according to a report by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

About 11.5 percent of SNAP benefits were spent at out-of-state stores, mostly in states that border West Virginia.

“This report raises red flags that might help us identify possible waste, fraud or abuse of these benefits,” Upson said. “While it’s understandable that large amounts of money may be spent in our border states, the fact that so much money is spent in far-off and popular vacation destinations is concerning…

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