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TULSA, Okla. -- As more people faced economic challenges over the past few years, Oklahoma residents spent nearly $1.2 billion in food stamp expenditures between July 2009 and March 2011. A bulk of those expenditures were at Walmart stores -- which brought in about $506 million in that timeframe, but convenience stores and tobacco retailers got there share too.
A two-year study by the Tulsa World found that food stamp recipients may live within a mile of a store that accepts food stamps; however, they will travel more than 10 miles for the bulk food stamp spending.
Stores in Tulsa County accepted more than $190 million in food stamps since mid-2009, with Walmart locations taking six of the top 10 spots and Warehouse Markets taking the remaining four. One recipient, Wilford Case, told the news outlet that food-stamp shoppers cannot get to the store often and Walmart is known for consistent prices and variety.
However, not all shopping is done in big-box stores. Smaller convenience stores are seeing their fair share of food stamp purchases. "When you can't get to a grocery store, that's when they use the convenience store," explained Priscilla Miner, family resources coordinator at the Tulsa Housing Authority. "You can't get everything you need there, but there may be lunch meat, bread, chips or soda."
QuikTrip stores across Oklahoma rank among the popular convenience stores with approximately $10 million in food stamp sales. According to QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh, the company has been participating in the program since it has been offered. Items most often purchased with food stamps are staples like milk, bread and eggs.
"We do have more items than most convenience stores and are conveniently located in areas that may not have anything else," Thornbrugh told the Tulsa World.
Other convenience stores redeeming food stamps include 7-Eleven stores, about $12.7 million; Kum and Go stores, about $2.7 million; JiffyTrip, about $648,000; and Stop and Save, about $385,900.
In addition, independent tobacco retailers in Oklahoma City accounted for about $304,000 in food stamp sales. Britton Discount Cigarettes, 1314 W. Britton Rd., led tobacco retailers by redeeming about $67,500 in food stamps. Discount Cigarettes and Food Store, 1845 W. Main St. in Oklahoma City, had about $64,200 in food stamp sales.