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Woman on welfare couldn't afford groceries. Cashier didn't let others help pay, witness says

Jacki Carroll said she was at the Albertsons grocery store in Gresham, Oregon — not the one pictured above — when she heard a cashier shaming a black woman, who was on WIC food stamps, because she was $12 short for groceries.
Jacki Carroll said she was at the Albertsons grocery store in Gresham, Oregon — not the one pictured above — when she heard a cashier shaming a black woman, who was on WIC food stamps, because she was $12 short for groceries. Wikimedia Commons

Jacki Carroll offered to help pay for a woman's food at an Albertsons grocery store in Gresham, Oregon, she said, but was "really shocked" to hear the cashier's response.

"She said, 'No!' Very abruptly," Carroll told KATU. "Literally, she raised her voice and said, 'No, you don’t need to do that.'"

"I go, 'Well I don’t mind, just let her have her stuff,'" Carroll continued. She said the cashier responded,"'No! You’re not going to do that.'"

The other customer was a black woman who was trying to buy food using coupons from The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which is a federal food assistance program for those with young children, Carroll said in an interview with KOIN. Carroll said she offered to help because the cashier, who she described as white and in her 60s, was being "really rude" to the woman.

The woman was just $12 short for the fruits and vegetables she wanted to buy, Carroll said, and eventually left without the groceries. Carroll told KOIN that the cashier then told her that the rejected customer "gets her groceries for free, she doesn't need anyone else supporting her."

"That's why they have babies, so they're getting all the free stuff," Carroll recalled the cashier as allegedly saying.

Carroll's daughter took to Facebook to complain about the encounter. Amanda Arnlund wrote that the cashier's comments proved she had some sort of prejudice against the woman who was trying to buy basic necessities.

"I’m not sure which group of people she is referring to when she says “they,” but this was absolutely ridiculous," she wrote. "She may be classist, she may be racist. It’s hard to tell for sure and honestly, she may be both."

Her mom talked to a store manager about the issue, she wrote, but it didn't appear that anything would be done about the incident.

"My mom and I agree that this is exactly what is wrong with the world. Where is the compassion and basic human decency? Everybody around was in shock when this occurred," she wrote. "My mom paid for her own groceries, and left the store. She called the store when she got home and spoke with the manager Ron. She thought he was nice, but he said he doesn’t have the autonomy to terminate her.

"I’m not sure how to feel about this specifically because it doesn’t seem like anything is going to be done. Something needs to be done. We can’t continue to let this happen in the US."

Albertsons released a statement to KOIN that said they "sincerely apologize" for what happened.

"At Albertsons, we have a policy and a culture of treating our customers, and each other, with courtesy, dignity and respect. It’s at the core of who we are as a company and member of this community," it reads. " ... "While this isolated situation is still under investigation, we are taking this opportunity to remind all of our employees that each and every customer is a welcomed guest in our stores."

But Carroll told KATU that the company needs to do more than just apologize — and instead have the cashier offer a face-to-face apology to the woman who she allegedly embarrassed.


"Everybody needs to help one another," she said. "No, I don’t have to give you money because you don’t have any, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about showing dignity and respect.

"If I don’t have any money to give you, that doesn’t mean I have to belittle you or say anything nasty."

Maya McDowell of Raleigh, mother of two, said food stamps purchased two to three weeks of food for her family.

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