Kroger apologizes to food stamp customer

Kroger has apologized to a customer who said she was brought to tears after a central Georgia store manager made disparaging remarks because of her reliance on food stamps.

“‘Excuse me for working for a living and not relying on food stamps like you,’ “ Cindy Nerger told ABC News the Warner Robbins manager said to her recently after a dispute over grocery items not covered by food stamps.

Nerger, 28, said she argued for a half hour with store employees who questioned $10 worth of items. The manager later agreed the items could be paid with her EBT card, she said, and told the cashier, ‘Just give it to her.”

After he made his “working for a living” comment, Nerger said she realized others around her had heard the manager. “I was so embarrassed,” she told ABC News. “I started crying.”

In a statement, a Kroger spokesman said the company regretted the incident. “The comments made were not reflective of our company’s policy. We value all of our customers. Please know that we have taken immediate steps to make sure something like this never happens again.”

The manager, who Kroger described as a “co-manager,” was transferred to another store. Nerger, who said she wants an apology from the manager, said Kroger also offered her a $15 gift card, but she rejected it.

Nerger, who posted the incident on her Facebook page, told ABC News she has kidney disease, is on dialysis nightly and hopes to undergo a kidney transplant. She said she and her husband rely on food stamps because his carpentry business isn’t enough to support her family. They have one child.

44 comments Add your comment

Alison of a Gun

September 26th, 2012
1:40 pm

Even people who don’t work deserve to eat food. Even if they don’t work because they’re lazy. Even if they have an iPhone. EVERYONE deserves food.

GeoffDawg

September 26th, 2012
1:49 pm

I think I missed that portion in the Bill of Rights Alison. However, I do agree that there’s no need to publicly embarras someone on food stamps.

guest

September 26th, 2012
1:51 pm

Prediction: she will sue Kroger and get a lot of money out of this.

Alison of a Gun

September 26th, 2012
1:54 pm

I don’t think I said anything about the Bill of Rights? I think I stated my opinion, which is that all human beings deserve to eat food.

Alison of a Gun

September 26th, 2012
1:54 pm

I can’t even believe that’s up for argument, but welcome to the South I guess!

Tech

September 26th, 2012
1:57 pm

As they should be…

Standing up for EBT

September 26th, 2012
2:11 pm

I hate to here this! Just happened to me as well at Kroger when purchasing items for my clients. The manager ( head cashier) at the time came over and yelled at the top of his lungs at me and the cashier . “Don’t you get it? The EBT system is down , just have to wait. You have no reason to be upset (as I was crying) because your getting your food for free! My humility was at the lowest level, I felt like I was being treat like a very low class citizen! I reported this event to a pharmacist that I knew who said that he would report to store manager. I was shaking and very embarrassed as there was at least 15 people all staring at me , I could not stand in the store one more minute, fearing I was going to faint! This is awful! If this is how people with EBT cards are treated then Kroger’s needs to retrain their employees and managers !!!! This should not and will not be tolerated at all, I am on a personal campaign to contact Kroger’s national headquarters . Good luck to everyone out there that is dealing with on a daily basis, NO matter why people are on EBT! I am shamed by the public response to this story!

ABC

September 26th, 2012
2:14 pm

It will be interesting to know what this person was actually buying that was in dispute. Then again, I have seen people with cart loads of really good brand name food and things like steak and expensive frozen food items pay with stamps. And then buy cigarettes, flowers, and wine with cash.

Must be nice…

MrLiberty

September 26th, 2012
2:18 pm

Alison of a Gun – “Everyone deserves to eat food”

Let’s go with that logic a minute. Where does food come from? Somebody has to grow it, feed it, kill it, process it, package it, sell it, cook it, etc. You get the point. Somebody else has to put our their resources in order for food to be. Certainly at a Kroger as we are not talking about someone foraging in the woods on unclaimed land.

So if EVERYONE deserves food, what about the people that must work to create the food? Are they just expected to work for free? What if they don’t want to? Are they to be forced, jailed, even killed if they object or resist? And what about their existence? They are putting our this effort so that they get renumeration so that THEY can buy food, eat, etc. What are they to do if their time is consumed producing for someone who gives them NO money rather than either producing food for themselves or producing goods/services to sell??

Socialism is a wonderful it is said until you run out of other people’s money.

You have noted a so-called right that in order to be fulfilled, the rights of others must FIRST BE VIOLATED.

We are not talking about a charitable receipt of food voluntarily contributed by someone to this woman. We are talking about money that has been STOLEN from the productive sector of society by government and given to this woman. The rest of us had no choice. We are not allowed to withhold our “contribution” because we think the system is being abused. We are jailed, or even killed if we resist the government and its enforcement goons.

How would you feel if you had worked tirelessly to produce enough food for yourself and then this woman comes along and says “everyone deserves to eat”, takes your food, and then you starve.

This is no different from the healthcare “right”, the “right” to housing, the “right” to education, etc. You cannot grant others “rights” like these without violating the rights of others. I would like to assume that this is not your intent but that the logic of this reality has just not been considered by you up to this point.

I have absolutely no problems with voluntary charity and would happily share what I have with others “voluntarily”, but we should all be allowed that opportunity, and others should be forced to realize that these monies are nothing but FORCED CHARITY and they are not ENTITLED to them.

CharonC

September 26th, 2012
2:23 pm

It’s hard not to get angry — I was in a small convenience store last week, and a family (?) with two women, a man and two children came in. The women were dressed in bathrobes, slippers and shower caps on their heads — this was 5 o’clock in the afternoon! The bought Red Bulls and pizza (cooked there in the deli) and paid with EBT cards, sat down and ate. I asked the cashier if it is legal to purchase prepared food and Red Bull — she said “of course.” It’s hard not to believe our culture is doomed.

MrLiberty

September 26th, 2012
2:31 pm

There was a time in this country when people shuned charity because they were too proud. They turned to family and friends before they would turn to churches and the like (who were the primary distributors of charity in the past). Call it shame if you like. Call it pride, Call it stubborness, but what you can’t call it is an entitlement mentality. There is an assumption in this country that when you fail, regardless of whether it is your own fault or the fault of others, government and the money it steals from others, will be there to bail you out. We started with people during the depression and moved on to car companies and big banks during this depression. There is now an entitlement mentality. Believe it or not, the sheer presence of this “painless” bailout only makes this worse for society as a whole.

At least when people knew that they were asking for charity, they worked to not have to do it. They knew that the food they were getting was likely coming off the tables of their neighbors, family, etc. They were more inclined to have this happen as infrequently as possible and to have it last as little as possible. Now we have multi-generational families of food stamp and welfare recipients – mostly because nobody has to beg anymore. And this disconnect between who is being taken from, creates the mentality expressed by Alison of a Gun and Standing up for EBT.

Quite frankly far too many are so ignorant (mostly thanks to failed government schooling) that they actually think the “government” has its own money. It doesn’t . It either steals from others (taxes), borrows from others (and pays it back through theft – taxes), or prints the money (thus stealing from everyone through the inflation tax – why stuff costs so much).

It is this kind of economic ignorance that has led great empires down the road to hell throughout history, and the american empire will be no different.

Just wait until the dollar collapses, govenrment’s have no money to buy votes with (EBT, welfare, etc.) and see how far your begging goes for the charity nobody will be able to afford.

MrLiberty

September 26th, 2012
2:34 pm

CharonC – Oh, its doomed alright.

Tyler R.

September 26th, 2012
2:39 pm

EBT transactions are fueling skams across this nation. It is all about lawsuits.

It is the shopper’s responsibility to know what is and is not covered under EBT. Paying customers should not have to wait due to the ignorance of EBT recipients.

A Kroger near my home has been overrun with EBT shoppers. They have lost business because of the delays. Employees have lost their jobs due to the loss of business.

The cashier’s frustration is understandable.

Pepper

September 26th, 2012
2:46 pm

Oh come now – *everyone* knows that anyone who is in possession of an EBT card *has* to A) Only eat generic brand foods deemed as healthy by a panel of voters; B) Must wear proper attire whilst shopping for generic, healthy food approved by voters; C) Must not carry or own a cellphone – any kind. D) Must not be seen entering or exiting a motor vehicle of any kind, as this could be mistaken to be their vehicle (this also includes buses, and taxi’s, because people with EBT should really just walk everywhere, right?) and E) Should not wear any type of cosmetics, hair care products or use any other grooming or beauty aides, as that would imply they were *living the high life*.
This includes all recipients benefiting from EBT – including college student who have financial aid and student loans with a meal plan, the spouses and families of many of our military personnel, and those pesky elderly folk.

Tyler R.

September 26th, 2012
2:47 pm

Alison @ 1:54

FRESNO, California (KFSN) — The government is trying to crackdown on food stamp recipients who are costing taxpayers $750 million dollars a year by illegally selling their benefit cards on eBay and Craigslist for cash.

The agriculture department wants to give states more power to investigate people who repeatedly claim to lose their benefit cards and then ask for replacements. The proposal would allow states to demand formal explanations from people who seek replacement cards more than three times a year. Those who don’t comply can be denied further cards.

They want the money, not the food.

Sam of GA

September 26th, 2012
2:47 pm

I have never been on any form of Government assistances, but I can understand that some people may need a helping hand. I hope and pray that none of you ever will need to be assisted in any way. Yes, I do pay a higher percentage of taxes than Mitt (14 %).

guest

September 26th, 2012
2:54 pm

Sam of GA…and what does the higher percentage than Mitt have to do with this?

freddt z

September 26th, 2012
3:01 pm

You should have seen all the food stamp recipients lined up to buy the new Iphone 5!!

MrLiberty

September 26th, 2012
3:16 pm

Sam of GA – I understand that people need a helping hand every now and then too. The point is whether it should come via the force/guns of government theft or through voluntary charity. You used to need to have the original booklet in order to use food stamps and then the glorious feel good types decided that nobody should have to feel any sort of shame at taking these government wealth transfers so they came up with the convenient cards. Now those are abused even more than the old paper stuff was.

I hope and pray that nobody needs to ever rely on the government for their sustenance – because that is a horribly crumbling foundation of failure.

Furious Styles

September 26th, 2012
3:19 pm

Hahah…OMG Pride my a$$. You can’t turn away , much charity if you’re hooked up to dialysis all day. If you think otherwise, you’re even a bigger moron than that store manager. See how your mouth gets you in trouble when you get into other people’s business? Kroger has apologized for the situation…leave it at that.

janet

September 26th, 2012
3:23 pm

If you eat food that is produced in this country , whether you are on food stamps or any other system, or buy all of your food , you are being provided your food at a reduced rate. How can that be you ask? Well every farmer and agribusiness in this country receives money from the US govt in the form of price supports and govt provided funds for crops to keep their prices low enough for we humans to buy food and they farmers to make money. And farmers make a lot of money ( except for Organic farmers- they receive little or no funding from the government and that is why their prices are higher than conventionally grown food.) So get off your pedestals people and stop thinking that you are better than everyone else just because you didn’t walk up to the cashier with an EBT card. You don’t need one- the subisidy in the prices you pay. And this is not theft as you like to call it. One more button pushing word for sure. It is called “the common good” and that is part of our Constituion in this country. Sure some people abuse the system, but more good comes from this program than harm. So stop thinking you are so superior to others….we are more alike than we are different.

Wait Adam Minute

September 26th, 2012
3:30 pm

I can confirm Alison of a Gun is employed. I work with her. While she does not receive food stamps, I do because I do not currently make enough to pay all my bills and buy food. In fact, the first few months I received EBT, I was unable to find work and unable to pay bills and had to beg for charity from my friends, which was indeed humiliating.

It’s easy to target those who abuse a system like EBT, but usually the loudest critics have not even come close to struggling with poverty. Does that lack of empathy that mean everyone who has should be punished?

I agree with Alison of a Gun that with the amount of food we produce and waste every year (the waste is truly staggering), it’s absurd that people should go without food. It’s even more absurd that someone would blame EBT abuse as a reason for our country debt struggles while ignoring the other side of the coin – millionaires and billionaires paying miniscule tax rates.

Arthur Redding Jr.

September 26th, 2012
3:38 pm

Mr. Liberty,

Apparently you have time to write lengthy essays on a newspaper blog–not everyone does–because they are working hard at their jobs.

DoctorMontalban

September 26th, 2012
3:41 pm

The guy kept his job and just got transferred to another store? What is this…the Vatican?

Ronin

September 26th, 2012
3:42 pm

@Mr. Liberty, yep.
There was a time when people were ashamed to ask others for assistance. Now, they simply have to ask the government, who has created a generational welfare state to facilitate their agenda at the ballot box.
If you need government assistance for food, it should be limited to basic generic items: rice, beans, milk, vegetables, fruit. And yes, bring back the actual stamps, the EBT card makes it fashionable to not be singled out as a moocher. Every time you use your EBT card, realize this: NOTHING is FREE. Someone, somewhere worked to produce a service or product, the government collected a tax on the profit to fund the budget for your EBT card.

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

September 26th, 2012
3:47 pm

To Mr. Liberty,

It was NEVER like that in this country. Many people starved or went hungry. That is why food stamps came about. But having said that, even back in the “good old days” as far back as the 19th century, governments made provisions to take care of the most vulnerable citizens who could not take care of themselves, notably orphans, elderly, and disabled. Learn your history.

TYEBABY

September 26th, 2012
3:51 pm

I CANT BELEIVE THAT YOU PEOPLE ARE ON A BLOG ARGUING ABOUT WHO SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT GET FOOD STAMPS AND WHAT THEY SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO BUY WITH THEM. LET WORRY ABOUT HOW THIS COUNTRY IS SHOT TO HELL AND WHATS GONNA BECOME OF IT IN A FEW YEARS WHEN WE ALL WLL PROBABLY NEED OR BE ON FOOD STAMPS… U GONNA WISH YOU HAD THEM ONE DAY ….

Ha Ha Ha

September 26th, 2012
3:52 pm

Dude, you’re a manager at Kroger. Not exactly the top of the food chain.

beanster

September 26th, 2012
3:56 pm

Some Kroger managers make 6 figures +. I bet that’s a lot more money than you make. Ha Ha Ha,

CT in CP

September 26th, 2012
3:57 pm

1st Kroger won’t be sued. It’s not a violation of the law (civil or criminal) to make someone feel bad about being on food stamps

2nd It’s better to give support to the poor through these programs, otherwise they will take it at gun point. Your taxes are probably cheaper than a compound and a 24 hour armed guard.

3rd. This woman shouldn’t be posting the fact she has an EBT on Facebook. (Here’s a money saving idea. Get rid of your internet access!) If you’re on EBT, you should feel shame and use that shame to motivate yourself to improve your financial prospects. It should also motivate you to make sure your child doesn’t end up like you.

Ronin

September 26th, 2012
4:00 pm

Tyebaby, you made the point for me. Your comment: ” LET WORRY ABOUT HOW THIS COUNTRY IS SHOT TO HELL AND WHATS GONNA BECOME OF IT IN A FEW YEARS WHEN WE ALL WLL PROBABLY NEED OR BE ON FOOD STAMPS…”

The abuse of the entitlement programs is ONE reason that country is going to Hades.

Ha Ha Ha

September 26th, 2012
4:09 pm

@ beanster

Wow, that’s real wealthy like. Bet he can afford him a swimmin’ pool and a Ford Super Duty with all that Kroger manager money.

beanster

September 26th, 2012
4:14 pm

He could do that very easily. You make quite the salient point.

Bikerchick777

September 26th, 2012
4:16 pm

“Back in the day” when I was a grocery store cashier, people used actual food “stamps” from a booklet. the rule was that you could only accept the stamps if they were still attached to the booklet, no “loose” stamps were accepted because even back in the 70’s, people would try to sell them for cash. Back then, you could not purchase prepared, ready-to-eat food items with food stamps, only basic foodstuffs, like flour, sugar, tea, meats, vegetables, bread, etc. The purchase paid for their food and then could receive up to 99 cents in change. I watched every day as people would make multiple purchases with their food stamps, carefully calculated to get enough change back to purchase cigarettes or candy. So the “cheating” has been going on forever.

To those who think that “governments” have cared for the elderly, sick and orphaned for many years, those homes were for the most part, set up and funded by churches and faith-based organizations. Very few were founded by the government. It was in the 1960’s, when the government declared a “war on poverty”, that things like subsidized housing projects, food stamps and TANF were introduced. TANF was only given to families that had no able-bodied workers in the home, so non-working adult males (i.e. fathers) could live under the same roof. Couple this with the “urban renewal” projects that buldozed entire black urban communities in the name of urban renewal, and the destruction of the black family and the black middle class was tremendous. With no incentive to work, no incentive to have a male provider in the home and no place to open a business if you wanted to start one, the government created a situation of complete dependence on government aid to survive. Very few people who were in this environment ever made it out of the projects and two and three generations of families were brought into the world solely supported by government aid.

I feel sorry for the hard-working people, who pay into the system and then find that they must take advantage of TANF or food stamps temporarily. Temporary support was the intention of the programs, not permanent dependence on them, not a sense that government assistance is “deserved” by everyone. It is no wonder that people using food stamps are stereotyped as being lazy or un-deserving, when so many are and will continue to be. It is those that cheat the system or feel entitled to other people’s money for their support that make it so hard for those people the system was truly intended for, those that simply need a temporary safety net until they can find a job and get back on their feet.

just me

September 26th, 2012
4:18 pm

I’m in my 30s and have been working since 14, including having 3 jobs simultaneously while being a full time college student.

If I fall on hard times you think I’m going to go to my friends, family and church before I go to the government? I haven’t been paying taxes to my siblings, aunts and cousins. I’ve been paying taxes to GOOD OLE UNCLE SAM for the better part of two decades. You’re nuts if you think I’m going to take money from other hard-working family members or friends before I cash in on the involuntary agreement that I have with my country.

That’s like paying homeowners insurance for 20 years then when your house burns down, you go and live with your mama.

Mittens and the like have got some of you idiots fooled.

Atlanta Citizen

September 26th, 2012
4:20 pm

She was so embarrassed about being on food stamps that she went national with her story? Something doesn’t add up here.

Deanna

September 26th, 2012
4:28 pm

The manager was transferred to another store? What the heck does it take to get fired from Kroger?

Pari

September 26th, 2012
4:48 pm

The lack of empathy and the general dismissal of others shown in this country is really quite disheartening.

jo

September 26th, 2012
4:53 pm

@Pepper, if that is a serious post you need to understand a few things. I don’t believe most people feel people on EBT are lazy but the bad minority makes it feel that way. As far as college students on financial aid with meal plans, those student loans have to be paid back. I guarantee that if all EBT users had the items they “purchase” totaled yearly and they were made responsible to pay it all back once they got back on their feet, you wouldn’t see so many people buying as much and surely not as frivolously.

jo

September 26th, 2012
4:58 pm

@just me, the difference between you and the EBT users that give all a bad name is, they have never paid taxes, they have never contributed anything positive to society. The only thing they contribute is more offspring, at taxpayer expense, that eat more food, at taxpayer expense, that require more medical expenses, at taxpayer expense. Don’t lump falling on hard times together with being sorry.

Linda Strickland

September 26th, 2012
5:16 pm

If you work (or have worked) and pay taxes, you’re simply getting some of your money back when you get food stamps. Never feel bad about it.
That’s what they’re there for. Besides, some of the same people who look down on those who need them, will need one day themselves. They’ll see. They won’t be talking $#%! then.

Pepper

September 26th, 2012
5:34 pm

@Jo – my post was sarcasm. People have this image of welfare recipients riding around in Cadillac’s and wearing diamonds and buying lobsters with their food stamps.

And you know what, I *know* there are a lot of people who abuse the aid that they are given, but NOT everyone who is given assistance. Whenever there is a story like this, people roll out with the food stamp stereotypes about them having a cell phone, or car, or brand name shirt on.

My brother is legally blind. His sight deteriorated over a span of 7 years and he kept working until he he was forced to quit, and had no choice to but to apply for disability to support him and his wife – who was in college – and their two children. Imagine the horror of his wife – my sister in-law – pulling up to the supermarket in a Ford F150 to do the shopping – with an EBT card. She then dares to buy her kids some Pizza Rolls or a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and be judged by a bunch of Holier-Than-Thou’s who were fortunate not to ever rely on public assistance. Is she supposed to wear a sign that says “My Husband Went Blind” to gain approval from the masses who cast judgement when she buys Pizza Rolls? Or having people judge her for loading her groceries into a big truck – one that was paid for back when her husband could work?
That is the thing – too many people have the stereotype in their head, they see an EBT card, and they think lazy freeloader, unless the person is elderly.

middle of the road

September 26th, 2012
5:38 pm

So Alison, I think you should donate all your extra money to charity to buy people food who don’t want to work. Just don’t ask the rest of us to.

beanster

September 26th, 2012
5:54 pm

“She then dares to buy her kids some Pizza Rolls or a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch”

I am not saying this applies to your relatives, but for the sake of limiting obesity in this country I hope that she is always met with resistance.