USDA is expanding access to innovative online food purchase program
(Washington, D.C., April 8, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced approval for Arizona and California’s request to provide online purchasing of food to SNAP Households in the States of Arizona and California. This approval will allow the states to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date later this month. California’s SNAP participation is over 4 million individuals, more than 2.2 million households, and totals more than $6 billion annually in federal funding. Arizona’s SNAP participation is nearly 800,000 individuals, almost 380,000 households, and totals nearly a $1 billion annually in federal funding. This announcement further demonstrates President Trump’s whole of America approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring those affected are fed.
“We are expanding new flexibilities and innovative programs to make sure Americans across this country have safe and nutritious food during this national emergency,” said Secretary Perdue. “Enabling people to purchase foods online will go a long way in helping Americans follow CDC social distancing guidelines and help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). USDA is mandated with the noble goal of feeding Americans when they need it most, and we are fulfilling that mission with new innovative programs during this national emergency.”
The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. Nebraska joined the pilot on April 1, 2020. Maryland and New Jersey remain non‐operational pilot states. The authorized retailers working with all pilot states are Amazon and Walmart, while Wrights Market and ShopRite are working with Alabama and New York respectively. Dash’s Market, Fresh Direct, Hy‐Vee, and Safeway are authorized retailers, which are not currently operational.
Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is receiving interest to expand the SNAP online pilot program, the responsibility is on state agencies, their third-party processor, and any retailers who wish to participate. To ease the process, FNS put together a simplified template for states who wish to enter the online pilot which is provided as an attachment to this letter.
USDA continues to provide significant technical assistance to interested states to ensure that plans are thorough and appropriate preliminary testing is conducted. If not done properly and judiciously, there is a risk to the state’s entire benefit system. Each state, its EBT processor and retailers present their own mix of challenges so FNS is providing customer service based on each of their specific needs.
FNS will continue to work with interested states in advancing their participation in this pilot. Until states are prepared to operate the pilot, USDA recommends states utilize other options that retailers may already provide, such as Pay at Pick-up (also known as “Click and Collect”), where SNAP cardholders can shop online and then pay for their purchase using their EBT card at pick-up. Grocery pickup is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the growing concerns around social distancing.
During these challenging times, FNS is working hand-in-hand with state program leadership, to provide support and guidance to adapt to the challenges of this public health emergency. USDA intends to use available program flexibilities and contingencies to continue to serve our program participants. For up to date information and to learn more about flexibilities being used in FNS nutrition programs, please visit the FNS website.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.