Gaming the food shelf for free food?

Recessions can trigger desperate behavior. But are otherwise relatively well-off people starting to use the hard times simply to score free food?

Yes, says Michael Gmitter, pastor and director of a northeast Minneapolis food shelf and a source in our Public Insight Network.

He wrote to tell us that besides his usual clients in need — fixed-income elderly people, the homeless, single parents with children — he’s starting to see a new group trying to tap the food shelf:

The newest group of people using our services are people with and without school age children, that are employed full time and own homes, cars and cabins.

This group is being shrewd/creative, etc. to keep what they have and or get what they want. Some of this group will lie, cheat and steal (so to speak) to get free food.

We have a challenge being sure we select those that have nothing or are the working poor… verses those that are experiencing hardship because they seem unwilling to prioritize their needs over their wants.

I left messages with Gmitter this morning. I want to hear more about this and the challenges he’s facing and I’ll try to post more on it later today.

I may be naive but this startles me. I can understand desperately poor people lying to get what they need to survive. But we’re talking about people who could afford food but are just gaming the system?

If anyone’s got any experience with seeing this kind of behavior, please drop a line or click here and share a story about it.

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