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Woman says she was mocked for using food stamps at grocery store

Al Behrman / AP file

A customer walks down the bread and pastry aisle at a Kroger Co. supermarket, March 1, 2011.

A store manager for Kroger, America’s largest grocery chain, has been transferred to a different store after a Georgia woman accused him of mocking her for using food stamps.

Cindy Nerger said last week that a manager and two store employees at a Kroger grocery store in Warner Robbins, Ga., told her that her purchases weren’t covered by food stamps. The manager later acknowledged that all of the items in Nerger’s cart were covered by them, and Nerger stressed that she had been right all along. The manager then reportedly responded, “Well excuse me that I work for a living and don’t rely on food stamps like you,” Nerger told local news outlet 13WMAZ.

Nerger said she spends 12 hours a day on dialysis and has been waiting for a kidney transplant for years. That’s why, she said, she relies on food stamps to feed her family.

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Humiliated and driven to tears by the incident, Nerger said she issued a complaint through the store’s national customer service line. The store responded by apologizing and offering her a $15 gift card, which she turned down because she said she doesn’t plan on returning to Kroger stores.

Still, it seems, Kroger is intent on keeping Nerger’s business.

In a statement, Kroger spokesman Glynn Jenkins said that the company decided to transfer the co-manager in question to another location after an internal investigation. “We wish the customer well and hope she will consider making Kroger her destination to shop in the future,” the statement concluded.

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When told about the manager’s transfer, Nerger said it wasn’t good enough and suggested he “should have been demoted to cashier so he can learn who is really on food stamps,” she told 13WMAZ.

Jenkins said workers at the implicated Kroger store will be retrained to prevent any similar incident, 13WMAZ reported.

Food stamp use has increased by nearly 51 percent since October 2008, and a record 46.7 million Americans used food stamps in June, according to a Department of Agriculture report released earlier this month. 

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