Kroger Launches Grocery Pickup for SNAP Recipients
The Kroger Co. has made online grocery ordering and curbside pickup available to shoppers who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The program, once known as food stamps, is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Before the pandemic started and social distancing kicked in, that agency was in the midst of a years-long effort, including an ongoing pilot in some states, to enable SNAP recipients to use their benefits for online and mobile grocery orders for SNAP-eligible items. It’s far too early to tell, but the ways that social distancing is changing food shopping habits could end up providing a higher profile to the USDA program.
"Kroger is rolling out a payment capability across our nearly 2,800 grocery stores to allow more customers to access fresh, affordable food and essentials through our pickup service," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO.
To use this new Kroger service, a consumer places an order via the retailer’s website or mobile app, and then selects the SNAP/EBT payment method as well as a pickup date and time. A Kroger employee collects the order, which is then delivered to the consumer in a designated space in the store parking lot. The consumer must present the EBT card for payment, and use another method to pay for items that are not eligible for SNAP benefits.
On Monday, Walmart debuted its own SNAP program, which basically involves the same process that Kroger has, and which applies only to curbside pickup, not grocery deliveries (though the USDA is testing the use of SNAP benefits for deliveries). Before the pandemic started and job losses mounted, some 40 million U.S. consumers, on average, took part in SNAP every month, according to the USDA.
Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,769 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.