Visa, Mastercard, EBT?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 31, 2002

In addition to helping you pay for food, the state of Alabama will also help you buy your fireworks.

However, according to Johnnie Melton, food stamp unit supervisor with the Department of Human Resources, money designated for food stamps cannot be used to purchase fireworks.

Melton explained that through Alabama’s Electronic Benefit Transfer system, or EBT, both food and fireworks can be bought. However, the money from each comes from different accounts.

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According to the Department of Human Resources, EBT makes state public assistance and federal food stamps easier to use through a debit-like card. The department said people can use their EBT card to access their public assistance money through automated teller machines. To use food stamp benefits, people use the same card at grocery stores.

Melton said that instead of a check being sent out to assistance recipients every month a direct deposit is instead made into their accounts.

However, Melton said that if someone exhausts all their assistance money then the account designated for food stamps cannot be used for something like fireworks.

Wayne Oates, manager at USA Fireworks, said that his store accepts EBT cards. In fact, a large sign advertising the store has the EBT logo attached to it, even though no one has yet to use the card at his location.

“I’m interested to see how it works,” Oates said.

Oates said that he formerly worked at a convenience store in Wetumpka. There, he said, they accepted money from the food stamp account of an EBT card, but not from the public assistance funds.

At USA Fireworks, though, things are different.

Oates said the EBT card works just like a debit card. The card is swiped through the machine, money is deducted from the person’s account and they sign the receipt.

Oates added that when the food stamp aspect of the card is used no receipt is given.

The store didn’t accept EBT cards a couple of seasons ago, Oates said, but his company recently changed credit card companies last season and now they do.

Oates said that USA Fireworks is only open during the Independence Day and New Year’s season. This season the store will be open until Jan. 4.

Oates also said that stores accepting EBT cards have been around for quite some time.

“This isn’t something that’s new,” he said.