Central Bakersfield

Should welfare funds be spent at a carnival? It's allowed

Should welfare funds be spent at a carnival? It's allowed
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A traveling carnival brought some family fun this weekend to the parking lot outside Valley Plaza Mall. The event offered fair-style rides and entertainment, and, of course, plenty of food.

The carnival also had a sign stating, "EBT accepted here."

The California Electronic Benefit Transfer card is essentially a taxpayer-funded debit card with food and cash aid. EBT cards are used by people pulling public assistance from the state.

Pam Holiwell, assistant director at the Kern County Human Services Department, says the card is meant to help people buy food, pay rent and utility bills, and buy necessary clothing and supplies.

So, is a carnival a necessary place for EBT acceptance?

Michael Weston of the California Department of Social Services didn't address that question directly but issued this statement Monday on EBT's purposes and restrictions:

"If an authorized retailer already has Point Of Sale equipment, EBT transactions can be processed through the retailer’s existing equipment once the hardware is set up and/or programmed to accommodate EBT transactions. This can be done without any additional authorization or approval from either the state or federal government. However, The State of California currently monitors the locations of ATM’s which accept EBT and restricts access for EBT Card holders in 14 specific types of business do not fall in line with the intent of the program -- which is to assist individuals in providing the necessities of food, clothing and shelter. These restrictions are enforced on an ongoing basis and include gambling establishments; adult entertainment establishments, non-FNS authorized liquor stores, bail bonds, bingo halls, cannabis shops, cruise ships, gun/ammunition stores, nightclubs/saloons/taverns, psychic readers, race tracks, smoke shops, spa/massage salons, and tattoo/piercing shops. The State continues to monitor EBT locations to ensure they fall within these policies."