Some Japanese and Japanese American seniors in Los Angeles experience barrier to cultural foods

"Why do many Japanese supermarkets not accept food stamps? Food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or CalFresh in California, assist people with lower monthly incomes in purchasing food using government funds. 'The Japanese and Japanese American people who have EBT want to buy Japanese products,' said Setsuko Nakama, executive director of Little Tokyo Nutrition Services. EBT, short for Electronic Benefits Transfer, is the system that processes food stamps. A stipend based on income, household size, and expenses loads monthly onto an EBT card, which functions like a debit card and can be swiped when checking out at a supermarket. 

According to a study by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health examining food insecurity during the pandemic, Asian households were more likely to face transportation issues when purchasing food. Nakama said some residents of Little Tokyo Towers travel to Food4Less in Boyle Heights to shop because it is a somewhat-nearby, affordable supermarket that does accept EBT — about a half-hour ride by bus. Some residents of Little Tokyo Towers who use EBT cards are homebound, and can’t purchase food on their own — so Nakama (or volunteers) pick them up and take them shopping."

Read the full Rafu article here.