The online Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been making large strides in the past month, driven by the coronavirus outbreak. Now, FMI – The Food Industry Association is applauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) guidance and assistance for grocers that would like to become authorized retailers.
"We’re pleased USDA’s online SNAP program has rapidly expanded to include 16 states this past month," said Jennifer Hatcher, FMI's chief public policy officer. "As the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a more urgent need for more customers to be able to use online grocery shopping. Offering online ordering and payment for SNAP customers is an important step to address the evolving needs of U.S. grocery digital shoppers, and works to ensure that we leave no customer unserved at this critical time."
The USDA launched its two-year online SNAP pilot in April of last year in New York state with Amazon, Walmart and ShopRite offering the program. Washington state came on board in January 2020, and the list of states has continued to grow.
Earlier this month, Walmart expanded its participation in the program, and Kroger also launched pickup for SNAP recipients. Consumers can buy SNAP-eligible grocery items online but have to pay delivery and service fees out of their own pockets.
“It’s evident that home delivery or pickup models are popular during this emergency, and the payments technology is working well for families paying with either credit or debit cards, or with online SNAP benefits in those states and stores with existing pilots," said Hatcher. "According to FMI’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends COVID-19 tracker, 20% of Americans tried online shopping for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. The interest in online SNAP sales has subsequently grown as grocers work to serve all their customers during this unprecedented time."
FMI said that it's working closely with the USDA to make sure that grocers are able to get authorized as online SNAP retailers as easily as possible.
"We appreciate the agency’s efforts to help streamline the process and work with grocers who would like to become authorized online SNAP retailers,” Hatcher said.