GROCERY STORE BARRED FROM FOOD STAMP PROGRAM
By Stephen Singer
SHANNON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has permanently disqualified a Shannon grocery from the Food Stamp Program following an investigation that found employees had purchased food stamps from customers.
Disqualification is the maximum penalty the federal agency imposes on stores for what it calls trafficking.
Dallas Leathers, who with his wife, Willa Dean Leathers, owns Shannon Produce, denied that such purchases took place. He and his wife did not fight the decision by the federal agency, he said.
“I’m not worried about it,” Leathers said.
Agriculture department officials permanently barred six Northeast Mississippi groceries in 1995 for trafficking. It temporarily suspended two others for accepting food stamps for ineligible items.
Earlier this year, two Northeast Mississippi grocers were kicked out of the federal program for trafficking and two Tupelo stores were suspended for exchanging ineligible items for food stamps.
In 1993, the most recent year for which information was available, the sale of food stamps for cash totaled $815 million nationally, said Steve Watkins, a spokesman for the federal agency in Atlanta.