Publix, Save Mart, Price Chopper Bridge Online Delivery Divide

Grocers team up with Instacart to expand SNAP
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
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Publix is now accepting EBT payments for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants through Instacart.

Publix, the Save Mart Cos. and Price Chopper/Market 32 are joining other food retailers teaming up with Instacart to increase Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payment integration for online grocery delivery and pickup.

This expansion will increase EBT payments for SNAP availability by more than 1,500 stores across 15 states.

EBT SNAP is now available at all Publix locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Save Mart - including Save Mart, Lucky California, Lucky and FoodMaxx banners - is now available across California and Nevada, making them the first Northern California retailer to offer EBT SNAP online. Price Chopper/Market 32 is now available across its New York stores, and will soon expand to its Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont locations in the coming weeks. 

"Price Chopper/Market 32 is pleased to be amongst the first national grocery retailers equipped to accept EBT SNAP benefits as a form of payment online via Instacart for same-day grocery delivery and pickup," said Blaine Bringhurst, EVP of merchandising, marketing and store operations at Price Chopper/Market 32. "We’ve advocated for this convenience since our partnership with Instacart began and are truly gratified that the success of its pilot program now allows us to extend the convenience to our customers throughout New York State.”

This expansion comes as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will offer P-EBT benefits to all low-income children of all ages, helping provide adequate nutrition to more than 30 million children over the summer. Once this expansion is complete, Instacart will offer EBT SNAP in more than 4,000 stores across 38 states and Washington D.C. The expansion follows Instacart’s initial rollout of EBT SNAP payments late last year in partnership with more than 2,000 Aldi locations nationwide. Instacart also announced its EBT SNAP partnership with Food Lion, launching across more than 600 Food Lion stores earlier this year. The company’s ongoing expansion highlights Instacart’s commitment to working with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to make fresh food and pantry staples easily accessible to even more people across the country. 

To help subsidize costs for EBT SNAP participants, Instacart will waive delivery or pickup fees through June 16, 2021, on up to the first three EBT SNAP orders for each customer with a valid EBT card associated with their Instacart account.

“Providing people access to the food they love is at the core of Instacart’s mission. We recognize the opportunity we have to help make fresh food and pantry staples more accessible to communities by breaking down barriers to same-day grocery delivery and pickup,” said Nilam Ganenthiran, president of Instacart. “We’re committed to continuing to expand EBT SNAP payments for Americans nationwide and are proud to partner with three new retailers - Publix, The Save Mart Companies and Price Chopper/Market 32 - on this important initiative.”

Where available, EBT SNAP participants will now be able to shop from Publix, The Save Mart stores, Price Chopper/Market 32, Aldi and Food Lion via the Instacart online site and mobile app. Once an Instacart customer profile is created, customers can enter their EBT food card information as a form of payment in their profile. Customers will need a secondary form of payment for non-food items such as taxes, tips and fees per federal SNAP guidelines. Customers can then enter their zip code to determine if they are near a participating retailer, and begin shopping and selecting items from retailers’ EBT-eligible products. Once items are added to their cart, customers will be able to select how much of their benefits they would like to allocate to the order. Orders for delivery and pickup can be placed by customers for receipt in as fast as an hour or scheduled several days in advance. 

Instacart, the leading online grocery provider in North America, has partnered with nearly 600 national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from more than 45,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. Instacart’s delivery service is available to over 85% of U.S. households and 70% of Canadian households. 

This week the National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, announced it has launched a SNAP Online Purchasing Toolkit detailing how retailers can prepare to accept SNAP EBT payments online. 

By streamlining this process, the Washington, D.C.-based trade organization aims to ensure that independent grocers are doing everything possible to make essentials accessible to the neediest members of their communities.

As the adoption of online grocery shopping skyrocketed during the pandemic, many indies were unable to accept SNAP payments for online purchases because of greater technical, financial and bureaucratic barriers than those faced by their larger competitors.

“Due to these obstacles, chain retailers often have an edge against smaller businesses,” noted Molly Pfaffenroth, NGA’s senior director of government relations. “While independent grocers have aggressively pursued expansion of their e-commerce platforms to meet demand, SNAP online shoppers continue to be underserved. And for many Americans, the independent community supermarket is the only lifeline in their struggle against food insecurity.” 

The toolkit outlines the SNAP online purchasing requirements that retailers must meet to take part in the program, with tips and instructions for getting set up, including a breakdown of various scenarios retailers may encounter before the setup process; best practices; and a template letter of intent for retailers to email to the USDA’s FNS, along with background information on the initiative. 

NGA developed the toolkit from information it gathered in interviews with retailers, e-commerce providers and third-party processors after the pilot program was expanded in 2020.

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