The EBT Card: Don’t Leave Home Without It!
Gov. Charlie Baker Initiates and Expands Free and Discount Programs for EBT Card Holders
EBT Cards Are Not Just for Your Basic Food Items and Welfare Benefits Anymore
by Ted Tripp
Sr. Political Reporter
File this under the topic: THE GOVERNMENT IS HERE TO HELP YOU!
In the January 2015 issue of the Boston Broadside, we published the column: “EBT Cards: Not just for Lobster, Champagne and Strip Clubs Anymore!” We reported how Governor Charlie Baker’s Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), in its effort to “provide a bridge to stability” to its “clients,” had set up a program for EBT card holders to get free access or pay a nominal entrance fee to eleven of the state’s most prestigious educational and cultural institutions. These included the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Children’s Museum of Boston and the Peabody Essex Museum.
Since then, the governor’s “Card to Culture Program” has grown to over 125 venues and includes such sought after destinations such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra (free), the Concord Museum ($2), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (free), the Norman Rockwell Museum (free), the Franklin Park or Stone Zoo ($3), and many more.
The cost to non-EBT card holders – the average person working 40 hours a week just to make ends meet – is considerably more as the nearby sample table shows.
The Broadside will publish a complete list of the EBT card discounts and what others pay in the September issue of the paper.
Another program initiated by the Baker administration for the EBT card community is HIP, or Healthy Incentives Program. If you are a food stamp recipient and EBT card holder, you are automatically enrolled in the program.
HIP is being pushed by food advocates who want to alleviate the food desert problem in inner cities (you can’t make this stuff up, folks). A food desert is where low income people don’t have access to enough fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. One of the advocates’ solutions is to encourage farmers markets in the inner cities. (Providing rides to Market Basket or Stop &Shop via The Ride, bus, taxi, neighbor, senior center van, volunteers – is apparently not on their radar.)
So Governor Charlie Baker’s government has now decided to pay – TO PAY – EBT card holders on food stamps to shop for their fresh produce and fruit at the more expensive farmers’ markets, farm stands, farms and other similar places. Of course, many of these are not located in the inner cities, but, hey, that’s OK, we’ll pay the EBT card holders anyway!
More about this in a future issue of the paper.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, 1 in 8 residents of the state is on food stamps or welfare benefits. Bloomberg News recently reported that 8.2 million fewer Americans are using food stamp since the peak during the Obama years. But the level of users is still about the same as that in the Great Recession, since during the intervening years both Bush and Obama had made it easier to qualify for the program.
With Massachusetts every year coming up with new ways to reward (encourage?) its EBT card holders, why would anyone – ANYONE – living here now want to voluntarily give up the new and better GOLD EBT CARD?
Who knows, maybe next year Governor Charlie Baker’s DTA will roll out a PLATINUM EBT CARD for the more discerning and discriminating Massachusetts’ “client.” ♦
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