Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Baker says no to tax payer EBT money

A Walpole baker is refusing to take EBT cards for her baked goods.
“I don’t think American taxpayers should be footing the bill for people’s pie purchases,” said Andrea Taber, (photo above) owner of the Ever So Humble Pie Co. in Walpole, who sells her goods at the Braintree market on Fridays and now finds herself in the middle of the state’s fight over welfare benefits.

“To me it’s no different than nail salons and Lottery tickets,” Taber said. “It’s pastry, it’s dessert. My pies are great, but come on.”

Organizers of the farmers market say that they just want poor people to have access to the market’s healthy, fresh foods.

“We just thought that people that were on food stamps a lot of times don’t have healthy choices,” said Braintree Farmers Market chairwoman Donna Ingemanson. “What better chance to buy healthy foods than at a farmers market?”

They also said, “encourage everyone who sells eligible products to participate” in a program in which the market will sell tokens to EBT cardholders to use at market stalls."

Taber said she has no problem with customers using their taxpayer-funded welfare benefits to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. But she feels different when it comes to her own sweet desserts.

“They looked at me like I had six heads,” said Taber, who responded by email on stating her objections.

“I know it’s been a struggle for you to accept this program but we really need to work something out,” the leaders of the farmers market  emailed back the same day. “Other markets make it mandatory to sign on to these programs and my guess is that it will be for us soon. ... In fact, you’re the only one who is resistant to the idea.”

They also threatened her saying, next year it will probably be mandatory for all vendors to accept food stamps.

“If that’s the case, I’ll take my leave,” Taber responded.“I’m not going to sacrifice my principles and standards for the sake of a few more sales.”(

“We haven’t had a problem with any of the other vendors,” the leaders of the market said. “We had a conversation earlier, and I was disappointed she didn’t do it.”

Taber has taken the issue to state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton), a welfare reformer who provided the email exchange to the Herald, and stands with Taber: “She should not be penalized for standing up for her principles — she should be applauded.”

Businesses must apply and be approved to accept EBT cards, and normally are not obliged to do so. Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Daniel Curley said the state wants welfare recipients to “access healthy food,” but he declined to weigh in on whether farmers markets that choose to accept EBT cards can compel their vendors to take part.

If you would like to visit the "Ever So Humble Pie Co. Website, click on the link below: