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WASTE WATCHERS: Tax dollars for candy bouquets

10:50 AM, May 23, 2012   |    comments
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NORCROSS, Ga. -- You are making a difference! 11Alive remains committed to seeking out tax dollar waste and abuse, and we are responding to your tips to our waste line. Kroger has responded to a complaint about possible waste in its store.

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION | Tax dollar waste

Since we broke the story about money meant for needy kids being cashed in liquor stores, tobacco shops and strip joints, with EBT cards, we've been getting your tips about other waste to check out.

Our Center for Investigative Action got a complaint about a sign at a Kroger grocery store in Norcross encouraging people to use their EBT card to buy candy bouquets.

"Sad, very sad," said one shopper as we waved her over to take a look.

There is no law preventing this, but we wondered why wondered Kroger would even encourage it.

"Take the camera outside," manager Josh Holley said when we tried to ask why the grocery store would put up the sign. He gave us a number to call to the corporate office, and we did.

"There should never be a case where this shouldn't be going to the bare necessities of food and non-alcoholic drinks, and even for that I'd like to mandate that they be healthy foods," said State Sen. John Albers, who successfully sponsored a bill for drug testing for welfare recipients. "The last thing we need to be doing is buying candy bars and soda."

Georgia's federal respresentative, Sen. Johnny Isakson, sent 11Alive an email stating:

"Current federal law prohibits federal SNAP benefits from being used for alcohol, tobacco, hot food and non-food items. I applaud Governor Deal for his efforts to crack down on this abuse of tax dollars by implementing similar restrictions on state-controlled TANF benefits. Georgians and all Americans deserve for their hard-earned tax dollars to be spent efficiently and appropriately, and I will work with Governor Deal to ensure that the outrageous abuse of tax dollars occurring here comes to an end."

We reached out to Kroger for a comment, and a spokesperson called us back. They thanked 11Alive for bringing it to their attention. We were told they didn't know why a clerk put the sign up and that it was inappropriate. It has now been removed. 

If you know about fraud involving social benefits you can report it to the state at FRAUD HOTLINE: 877-423-4746. When you get the voice mail press 4, to get to the fraud center. 

If you want to tip 11Alive's CIA team off to tax dollar waste, visit our Waste Watchers webpage.

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