Ice Cream Trucks Raise Questions About Food Stamp Use - WSPA.com

Ice Cream Trucks Raise Questions About Food Stamp Use

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After getting "constituent complaints" an Upstate Congressman asks the state to investigate use of food stamps by a local business. After getting "constituent complaints" an Upstate Congressman asks the state to investigate use of food stamps by a local business.
SPARTANBURG, S.C - Todd’s Ice Cream trucks should look familiar in Spartanburg.  Owner Burnett Todd said he bought one new in 1976 and has been using the same fleet for decades.

In the last year, however, the message has changed and it can be more difficult to tell what product those ice cream trucks really sell.  They still bear the familiar look but have added something new.

All the trucks now say “We accept EBT.”  The ice cream trucks now take food stamps. 

According to the USDA which funds the food stamp program, a retailer can’t accept that money if it sells only ice cream.  At least half the company’s income must come from other “staple foods”.

The trucks appear to show Todd’s doing exactly that.  The owner said he’s expanding his offerings.

“We're doing sort of what the Schwan’s people do. They're a billion dollar business they've been around for years and years," Todd said.

Todd said his company is now in the frozen meat business.  He said he’s in the process of retrofitting his trucks for that new business which will be branded “Todd’s Mobile Convenience Store”.

Inside his building Todd did show 7 On Your Side a freezer filled with frozen steaks, ribs and chicken as well as shelves of ice cream.

“We've been approved by the government like 8, 9 months ago and we're able to do the EBT with the trucks now with our meats, now with all of our product availability," Todd said.     

7 On Your Side contacted the South Carolina Department of Social Services to ask about Todd’s Ice Cream.  A spokesman there said the agency would release an official statement soon.  They did confirm they’d been contacted about the company by a member of Congressman Trey Gowdy’s office.

A spokesperson at Gowdy’s office said they were responding to a constituent’s complaint.

Todd said that was his competition trying to prevent the success of his new enterprise.

Todd did confirm he’d gotten his Food Stamp permit more than a year ago, but had still not converted any of his trucks to the new mission.  He said that work was underway but “takes time”.

He also said because of the new offerings, he is free to sell ice cream from trucks and collect food stamps.

A previous Community Watchdog report in 2010 focused on Todd’s employees.

A driver with a long rap sheet was arrested that year and charged with possession of marijuana in the truck.

In 2008 a husband and wife, both Todd employees were also charged.  The husband, an ice cream truck driver, was recognized from a wanted poster and charged with driving with a suspended license. 

His wife was arrested and charged with possession of a crack pipe.
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