Hannaford responds to EBT shaming

Earlier today I published a blog entry highlighting a picture that recently went viral of two EBT transaction receipts taken at the Hannaford Supermarket in Brewer, Maine.


The receipts, which show food stamp balances of $2,325 and $1,491, and purchases including soda and junk food were shared on the Facebook page of conservative talk-show host Howie Carr, so naturally the anti-welfare wolves came out howling.

In response to the buzz created by Carr, several local progressive activists started calling for Hannaford to figure out who took the picture and fire the employee immediately.

Via Facebook, Hannaford responded with a consistent message to people:

“Thanks for reaching out. We wanted to let you know that we’re looking into the situation. We welcome all forms of payment in our stores. Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns and your feelings with us.”

Following the post from earlier today, I heard back in greater length from the Hannaford corporate offices in Scarborough.

On a phone call with Michael Norton, Director of External Communication and Community Relations for Hannaford Supermarkets, he suggested that it may not have been a Hannaford employee who took the photos, that perhaps it was someone who had gone through the trash can outside the store in search of the receipts with a motive to shame poor people.

Maine EBT card. Photo- Linda Coan O'Kresik.

Maine EBT card. Photo- Linda Coan O’Kresik.

To be fair, that may have been the case, but a closer look at the receipts will show the cashier name scratched out in an effort to protect the employee’s identity. So the far-fetched possibility of someone digging through a trash can becomes even more unlikely when you consider all the facts.

To his credit, Norton condemned the act in either case, and made it clear that they are going to get to the bottom of this, and that if the pictures were taken by an employee they will not take the offense lightly.

In a written statement, Norton had this to say:

“We gladly accept and appreciate all forms of payment. If we determine that our personnel were involved in posting any receipt, we can assure you it would be taken seriously. We do caution that receipts of the type posted do leave our hands. For context, there also is not information on these receipts that can identify an individual customer. With that acknowledged, it clearly would be wrong for us to use a receipt for any purpose other than customer service.”

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.