The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking retailer volunteers for a two-year nationwide pilot to enable Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase groceries online.
The 2014 Farm Bill mandated a pilot be conducted to test the possibility of allowing retail food stores to accept SNAP benefits through online transactions. Up to five retailers in three states will be selected for this pilot and, once selected, the pilot will begin next summer after the EBT processor completes system development work to allow for online SNAP transactions.
Since the Farm Bill passed, USDA has been working to lay the groundwork to put together the complex technical infrastructure required for this pilot. Online payment presents technical and security issues that will be tested in this controlled, limited way prior to nationwide expansion. USDA is committed to maintaining the security of SNAP benefits for both the protection of SNAP participant accounts and to prevent and detect trafficking, so SNAP online purchases must have a higher level of security than most other online purchases.
For households to make online purchases, the pilot requires retailer volunteers to provide service that is secure, private, and easy to use. As with all SNAP purchases, customers participating in the online pilot will be able to use their SNAP benefits only for eligible food purchases, not to cover any related charges such as delivery or service fees. Retailers interested in participating should consult the online purchasing pilot Request for Volunteers Application Package available for download from the FNS public website.