A new FNS grant will pave the way for more smaller grocery operators to offer SNAP online purchasing.
The National Grocers Association Foundation (NGAF) has received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to establish a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Modernization Technical Assistance Center (SEMTAC) that will lead grocers through the process of implementing online SNAP grocery purchasing. SEMTAC will instruct retailers in the federal requirements for SNAP EBT modernization, including the online purchasing and mobile payment programs.
“Independent community grocers have been actively pursuing expansion of their online purchasing platforms, including online SNAP and mobile payment capabilities, to meet the ever-growing consumer demand for online shopping, but obstacles and a lack of resources have hindered the ability of many smaller retailers to pursue innovative solutions, resulting in reduced access for customers to needed essential food products and services,” said NGAF Director Chelsea Matzen. “This grant will pave the way for more smaller grocery operators to offer SNAP online purchasing, making them more competitive in their respective market areas and better able to provide service to food-insecure Americans.”
Boosting access to online grocery purchasing is especially important for rural communities and areas featuring stores with limited selections of healthy foods.
“Small stores are the heartbeat of towns across America,” said Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for FNS. “They’re often individually owned and operated, create local employment opportunities, and provide essential resources for their community, but they also may not have the same resources that bigger stores have at their fingertips.”
The tech assistance center will enable NGAF to leverage and build upon its earlier offers of technical assistance with SNAP and its history of supporting independent grocers with a team of expert partners and consultants. Among the foundation’s earlier initiatives is a SNAP Online Resource Guide for brick-and-mortar retailers, a toolkit that discusses purchasing requirements, tips for setup and best practices. This guide, which was created with FNS guidance, will be revised to create an improved resource for retailers interested in participating in SNAP Online.
The NGA Foundation, the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the Washington, D.C.-based National Grocers Association, provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers.