SNAP is Going Online


 Over the years, SNAP shoppers have had their typical routine for shopping. It was simply walking into the store, filling their cart up, and making their way to the counter. While this will still be the way many cardholders shop for time to come, some new ways to shop are closer than you think. With the growth of online shopping and now, grocery delivery, the grocery shopping experience has changed for many consumers.  Until now, SNAP recipients have been excluded from the capability to purchase groceries online, but the Food and Nutrition Service may finally be making this a reality.  

In 1993, the Agriculture Adjustment Act was passed by congress as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. It is also known as the Farm Bill. But what is it?

            The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year law that governs an array of agriculture and food programs. Although                              agricultural policies sometimes are created and changed by freestanding legislation or as part of other major laws, the              farm bill provides a predictable opportunity for policymakers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural              and food issues. 

- Food and Nutrition Service

To make it simple, the Farm Bill sets the guidelines for SNAP. Under rare drastic measures changes may occur for SNAP without a new Farm Bill.  The Farm Bill ensures FNS and the USDA's vision by making sure the principles of the SNAP program stay intact. 

Between 2008 to 2018, steps have been taken for the availability of using SNAP online.

In 2008, the agenda for SNAP online have begun to be set in motion. For many years it was technologically impossible to use EBT online because there was no way to verify through the PIN. However, there was an industry meeting that established a technical subgroup to tackle this issue and develop a solution for it. Through hard work, the technical subgroup was able to fix these problems.

In 2014, after much discussion the opportunity to use SNAP online was closer to reality. The 2014 Farm Bill was ready to embrace the process of innovation. Once developed and approved by the 44th president of the United States, research and development was taken into new heights. No longer was the idea of may SNAP users make online purchases a dream but it was becoming a reality. 

In 2017, the Department of Agriculture announced seven retail firms that will take part in this pilot.even though some of these stores are nationwide, the pilot stage is only taking part in certain states. Despite being an adventurous opportunity, there were some things to adjust to, such as the websites not having to include taxes on the totals. In addition, the websites must be able to accept multiple forms of payments. Here are the seven retailers and the states they'll be offering online SNAP purchases in:

  • Maryland: Amazon, Safeway, ShopRite
  • New Jersey: Amazon, ShopRite
  • New York: Amazon, Freshdirect, Hart's Local Grocers, Dash's Market
  • Iowa: Hy-Vee, Inc. 
  • Pennsylvania: ShopRite

Keep in mind, it is only allowed within certain zip codes. If you're interested in learning which zip codes, visit the Food and Nutrition Service website. 

In 2018, the Department of Agriculture is still finalizing the technology and systems for the use of SNAP online.

In 2019, the pilot will begin with:

  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York 
  • Iowa
  • Pennsylvania 

Soon after the following states will then be rolled out: 

  • Alabama
  • Nebraska  
  • Oregon
  • Washington 

In the foreseeable future, the main goal is to have the entire United States participating in the acceptance off SNAP benefits for online transactions. To learn more about the new future of SNAP click here.

This project is being taken very serious with the USDA Secretary stating,

            “Online purchasing is a potential lifeline for SNAP participants living in urban neighborhoods and rural communities                   where access to healthy food choices can be limited … We’re looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the               online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP”

All of this is very exciting but there may be one deal breaker for some. SNAP benefits will cover the accepted SNAP goods, but it will not cover any delivery nor service charges.

Interested in the biggest SNAP retailer mistakes to avoid? Become informed and continue reading at goEBT


Sources: Food and Nutrition Service from the USDA, Food Stamps Organization, Federation of American Scientist 


in News, Industry News, EBT