SNAP benefits expanded for online grocery store orders

Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, will be able to shop for groceries online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Benefit recipients will be able to use their SNAP card to buy food online under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s pilot program approved in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

The program will be available in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Missouri where more than half of U.S. households rely on federal funding for food.


Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards can be used to buy groceries from participating retailers. Amazon and Walmart are currently offering the service in Florida, New York, Iowa, Nebraska, Alabama, Oregon and Washington state. Shoppers will also be able to use SNAP at ShopRite online stores in New York and Wright’s Markets in Alabama.

There were 19 million SNAP participants across the country in 2019, however, those numbers are likely much higher as millions of Americans file for unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19.

To qualify for SNAP benefits, a person must earn a gross monthly income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty line -- though eligibility requirements can vary by state.

And because 34 percent of recipients do not own a car, online access to food delivery services is vital, particularly with stay-at-home orders still in place in many states.

The USDA announced last week it increased monthly SNAP benefits by 40 percent totaling $2 billion per month for households across all 50 states to provide food security during the coronavirus crisis.

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