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Online grocery purchasing for SNAP recipients now available in Pennsylvania

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The Department of Human Services on Friday announced that the system changes necessary to implement the pilot program that lets recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchase groceries online through participating retailers have been completed, and online grocery purchasing is now active at approved retailers.

“SNAP recipients in Pennsylvania have not had the flexibility to use online purchasing for grocery delivery or for prepayment of curbside pickup, potentially putting their health and safety at risk during this health crisis. We are proud to announce that that changes today. We are glad to launch this pilot program to allow us to expand flexibility to SNAP recipients looking to utilize online grocery purchasing to support social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” DHS Secretary Teresa Miller said. “No one should be in the position of jeopardizing their health to get groceries for their family. I encourage retailers across the commonwealth to reach out to Food and Nutrition Services and join this program.”

The pilot program currently includes three approved retailers: Amazon, Walmart, and ShopRite. Only eligible food items normally paid for by SNAP will be able to be purchased from these retailers online with SNAP benefits; delivery fees, driver tips, and other associated charges may not be paid for with SNAP benefits.

Due to the expedited timeframe to implement, this initiative does not include the ability to transact Cash Assistance benefits using the EBT card, according to a press release. Therefore, individuals will need to use another method of payment, such as a pre-paid debit card, to cover non-allowable fees.

A fourth retailer, The Fresh Grocer, was approved by the federal government to participate in the program, and once necessary system changes are implemented, it will begin accepting online SNAP payments.

Retailers that are interested in participating must contact FNS to review the requirements to be added to the program.

Retailers that do not wish to join the pilot program can still offer delivery or pickup flexibility options for SNAP recipients by using mobile EBT processing equipment that would allow customers to pay with SNAP when groceries are delivered or picked up, the press release stated. Farmers markets may be able to receive this processing equipment at no cost through a grant opportunity provided by DHS.

DHS is continuing to process applications for SNAP and encourages people and families who need assistance to apply online at www.compass.state.pa.us, according to the press release. All SNAP applications are screened for expedited services criteria which can accelerate processing time for those with emergency needs.