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More SNAP Clients Can Order Groceries Online

USDA expands program to 15 states and D.C. so shoppers can avoid stores during the coronavirus outbreak


spinner image person using an tablet to start online grocery shopping
Pixsooz / Alamy Stock Photo

A pilot program that allows Americans who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps, to order their groceries online is being expanded as an increasing number of people are staying away from brick-and-mortar stores during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved 15 states and the District of Columbia to participate in the program, which allows recipients to use their SNAP card for online food purchases at participating stores. The program is now going to be available in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Washington and West Virginia. These states, along with D.C., represent more than half of all households that receive this federal nutrition assistance.

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"This will be especially helpful for older adults who seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from coronavirus,” said Nicole Burda, an AARP legislative representative. “By being able to access groceries via online and deliveries with SNAP benefits, it will help ensure that people are able to purchase the food they need while minimizing contact with others."

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AARP has been pushing for an expansion of online grocery shopping and delivery capability for SNAP recipients as well as for an increase in the amount of money they receive each month.

Under the pilot program, SNAP beneficiaries can use their EBT card to purchase groceries from retailers that participate in their state's program. So far, Amazon and Walmart are providing that service in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Washington state. Wright's Markets is also participating in Alabama, and ShopRite in New York.

It may be some time before other approved states have their programs up and running, but USDA officials say that in the meantime, these states may allow their residents to take advantage of “Pay at Pick-up” or “Click and Collect” services, by which SNAP cardholders can shop online and use their EBT card to pay for their groceries when they pick them up.

States have web pages devoted to their SNAP programs, so recipients can learn more about the program. A map with links to those web pages can be found here.

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