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You Can No Longer Buy Steamed Crabs With Food Stamps

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Steamed crabs are cooked in hundreds of Maryland carryouts, but now they can no longer be purchased with food stamps.

"We'll kind of push through it. It's the local watermen and consumers that's going to get hit the worst out of all of it," Chad Strzegowski, owner of Al's Seafood in Essex, said.

According to The Baltimore Sun, federal officials from Food and Nutrition Service demanded that stores provide more information about their sales in order to justify their eligibility to accept food stamps in October. Since the crackdown, 43 city shops lost their eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Strzegowski said food stamps can be used to buy uncooked crabs, but when they're steamed, "We're considered a 'whole restaurant.' Our carryout is a restaurant now, so that knocks us out."

Strzegowski also thinks people get the wrong idea of low-income people using food stamps buy luxury items.

"People have this thought that somebody using that to pay for crabs -- that they get biggest crabs, the biggest shrimp. No, they usually get the females -- the smaller crabs."

Retailers said that kind of purchase typically works out to $20 and losing food stamp customers could reduce total sales by 30 percent.

More than 40 million people are on food stamps nationwide, including nearly 200,000 in Baltimore, which is a third of the city's population.

According to Strzegowski, "I would say at least that, and if not, in certain areas maybe half the business."

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