Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Food Stamps Rap Video Going Viral On YouTube: "My EBT" By @MrEBT

"Everyday I get my swipe on...Sandwiches, chips, Snickers, Twix; I'm eating good, potato chips; A big box of Oreos..."
UPDATE, Sept. 24: YouTube removed the video after it received more than 300,000 views
"My EBT" is a newish video by Rap artist Stanley Lafleur, 24, who calls himself @MrEBT (H Man). It's going viral on YouTube, thanks in part to a headline appearing on Drudge Report on Monday. Mr EBT is one of the 45 million-plus Americans who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps) benefits monthly. In the video, he wanders through supermarket aisles and a couple of restaurants while he describes, in rhyme, what he buys with his Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. It's mostly junk food--fully allowable under federal guidelines, something Mr EBT notes, in rhyme. And his benefits card is actually his sister's, Mr. EBT notes, also in rhyme, so he's committing fraud "to get my swipe on." @MrEBT has more than 16,500 followers on Twitter, he's on Facebook, and the video has been viewed more than 84,900 times on YouTube. Update, 8:00 PM: The video now has more than 185,600 views. (Top: A screengrab from the video; inset is Mr EBT's Twitter avatar)

"Sandwiches, chips, Snickers, Twix...I'm eating good...Potato chips...A big box of Oreos...Cereal, Kix...My EBT, My EBT...Walking down the Ave, there's food I got a hunger for...I just want some Jam...Walking down the aisle, cuz I just want some ham...Wham!," Mr EBT raps. "It's the EBT, it's not Food Stamps...Breakfast time the cheese is melted...if I don't have my card I use someone else's..."

Mr EBT's PIN number is included in the lyrics, as is the information that weed can't be purchased with Food Stamps, nor can Lysol, among other things. It's an instructional video.

"I wish I could buy some weed with my EBT but the drug dealer fronted me," Mr EBT raps:

"YouTube Hit Video: Song Celebrates Welfare Card!" was Drudge's headline.

Mr EBT visits a McDonald's onscreen, as well a bodega to "get his swipe on." According to a USDA spokesman, California, Arizona, and Michigan operate State administered restaurant programs serving the elderly, homeless, and disabled populations, which allow the use of EBT cards/funds. Rhode Island began a limited pilot restaurant program on August 1, 2011. In 2009, Florida began operating a pilot program in one county and has a total of 14 restaurants participating. Various major food service corporations--most notably Yum! brands, parent to KFC and Pizza Hut--are currently lobbying USDA and on the state level for an expansion of the practice of allowing Food Stamps use in restaurants.

The Food Stamps program costs taxpayers more than $6 billion monthly, and suffered no funding cuts under President Obama's new deficit reduction plan. The program boosts the economy, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity," Vilsack said in August. "If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It's the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times."

USDA decided in August that it would not approve a pilot program in New York to remove sugary beverages from the Food Stamps program. USDA's summary of Food Stamp statistics: READ HERE. (Above: A screengrab of Mr EBT using his card at McDonald's)

Another video from the EBT oeuvre has been on YouTube for a while: "It's Free Swipe Yo EBT" by Chapter. The lyrics are explicit, and also include an informative list of what restaurants in Los Angeles, CA accept EBT cards.

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