Food Stamp regulation needed

CREATED Nov 21, 2012

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MILWAUKEE - Candy stores, beauty shops, even record stores, are all approved to take your money as part of the food stamp program. The program is a multi-million dollar industry, funded by your tax dollars. Thousands of Milwaukee families depend on it. However, the I-Team uncovered very little is being done to make sure your money is not being spent on garbage.

The food stamp program, or Quest, gives one million dollars to 700 Milwaukee stores every day. That is one million of your tax dollars. The program is regulated by the USDA.

The I-Team went to one of the candy stores that is USDA approved to accept food stamps, All Kinds of Candy.

Jermont Terry: "You have been open for 17 months. Has the government ever come out to check out your store?"
All Kinds of Candy's owner: "Not really."

The I-Team went undercover with its hidden camera to keep stores in check. It discovered candy stores, beauty shops, even liquor stores, all with access to FoodShare dollars, including a record store. The I-Team did not find any healthy foods inside. The I-Team also discovered a tobacco store, also USDA approved, with only bare food shelves.

Common Council President, Willie Hines became outraged when watching the hidden camera video.
"It's clearly evident that they are not really serious about the offerings of  healthy options to residents," Hines says. "The federal government needs to crackdown."

Though the USDA regulates the program, it only has 100 inspectors. That is 100 inspectors not just for Milwaukee County, not just for Wisconsin, but for the entire country.

"The real obvious answer is we need more inspectors," says congresswoman Gwen Moore.

Even a candy store that was denied a food license from the city is USDA approved vendor. Sticky Fingers House of Candy is not even open.

"So the question is, what are they offering?" asks Hines suspiciously.

The USDA watched the I-Team's initial investigation and now says it is going to reevaluate its approved vendor list and check out some of the stores the I-Team went inside.