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The Federal Government Desires to Increase the Number of Internet Merchants Who Take Food Stamps

The U.S. government is attempting to persuade more shops to provide online purchasing alternatives for Americans who utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps.

Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a new $5 million grant program, the SNAP EBT Modernization Technical Assistance Center, which would provide funding to retailers who require assistance starting SNAP-accepting online businesses.

The initiative is motivated by the increasing popularity of online shopping, particularly for food.

Currently, the majority of merchants who sell SNAP online are larger grocery chains that already have an established online shopping base, like Walgreens, 7-Eleven, Target, Whole Foods Market, and Kroger.

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However, many SNAP participants find it difficult to get to a real grocery store, as they reside in food deserts — places where it is difficult to purchase high-quality, fresh food.

“Online grocery shopping is a key resource that increases access and convenience for everyone, especially low-income families,” said Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services at the United States Department of Agriculture.


The USDA expects this program to assist close the funding gap that prevents many local shops from operating an eCommerce business. In addition to providing funds, the organization wants to provide technical assistance to help develop current sites and build brand-new ones.

The USDA is also launching a trial program that would allow SNAP recipients to use their smartphones to purchase food in real locations by entering their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card information into a mobile device.

In May 2022, well over 3 million SNAP households would have shopped online, a significant increase from March 2020, when only 35,000 SNAP households shopped online.

USDA attributed this to the agency’s expansion of its pilot program, which resulted in 130 shops representing thousands of stores being added to SNAP.

On September 30, 2021, the USDA reported that around 254,000 businesses were approved to participate in SNAP, ranging from convenience stores to bakeries to large and medium-sized supermarket stores.

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A household’s income must be at or below 130 per cent of the federal poverty level to qualify for SNAP, and payments are divided according to household size. The initiative serves a key role in assisting low-income workers to afford nutritious meals.

Many SNAP participants worked as cashiers, cooks, home health aides, and janitors in 2021.

The USDA is also launching a pilot programme that will allow SNAP recipients to use their smartphones to purchase food in real-world locations by entering their EBT card information into a mobile device.

Until September 6th, the USDA’s SNAP EBT Modernization Technical Assistance Center is accepting grant applications; awardees will be announced in the fall of this year.

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