Delaware moves to offer online groceries in a SNAP
Grocery delivery is becoming more common - especially during the coronavirus pandemic. The First State is entering a new program that makes that an option for SNAP recipients.
The USDA recently gave the green light for Delaware to join a pilot program of states that allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to order and pay for groceries online. SNAP recipients will be able to pay for the groceries using their benefits, but must front the delivery costs themselves.
Getting groceries delivered to your door is an innovation seeing wider use. But one sector of the population has been left out, food assistance recipients.
Delaware provides food assistance benefits to around one hundred and fifty thousand residents, that’s over 15 percent of the population. More have joined the program since the pandemic has put thousands out of work.
Delaware Social Services director Ray Fitzgerald says the intent of the program is to provide greater access to healthy and fresh foods to SNAP recipients.
“It originally started in a few states before it was expanded in March in response to the COVID pandemic to allow more flexibility and access for SNAP recipients to purchase food online.”
SNAP recipients will be able to order groceries for delivery from companies like Amazon, Walmart and Shop-Rite and pay with their benefits.
One concern about the program is that it could cut out smaller retailers and grocers because of the costs to implement a grocery delivery program.
Fitzgerald says he hopes more retailers will join to make it easier to shop from your favorite grocer.
“I believe that there is a process for other retailers to get engaged with the program. That’s not our role to determine which retailers are engaged. But like I said it’s my understanding there are others that are trying to become eligible for this program as well.”
But don’t expect to be able to get milk and eggs off Amazon just yet, Fitzgerald says the program could take a while to implement.
The state has to work with its card vendor and the USDA to build out the online system. Fitzgerald says he doesn’t know yet when the program will be able to be used by SNAP recipients.
Roman Battaglia a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.