- Growing Up Bronx
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Back in the days, when you received government assistance there was no ebt card, you were actually issued physical currency called food stamps. Most stores that accepted WIC and other government assistance programs as a form of payment existed. This is still the case today, though assistance is mostly digital these days.
In any case, back then the bodegas and recipients of food stamps came up with a strategy to take those food stamps and turn them into cold, hard cash. I’m not sure how it worked for bodegas and supermarkets in terms of gaining their monetary value back from food stamps, but for us, we had to take a slight loss of purchasing power in this less than honorable exchange.
For instance, say I have 20 bucks in cupones, I’d bring these 20 to the bodega and ask the guy to hook me up. He’d take the 20 in cupones and give me $10 or $15 in cash. I don’t recall the exchange rate in the hood, but I’m sure it varied from place to place and also depended on whether they knew, trusted and or liked your ass. Some of them would not do it if they weren’t feeling you or if they thought you were a DT. These bodega owners don’t play, remember what happened to me for that counterfeit bill they tricked me into using?
These days they use an ebt card, but I’d bet the farm that this game is still being run out there. I supposed they’d charge the ebt card for whatever amount and then give you some cash balance after taking their customary cut of course.
Since the beginning of time people have been finding ways to game the system, and just because we’ve moved into a digital era, that doesn’t mean these hustles go away. We just find different and more creative ways to run them.