Nebraska's 150,000 SNAP Recipients Can Now Order Groceries Online
By Christina Stella , Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
April 1, 2020, 5:10 p.m. ·
Over 150,000 Nebraskans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, for access to food. Access to grocery stores can be a challenge for participants: but starting today, some can use their credits to order groceries online. Some say the rollout is particularly timely as Nebraska battles COVID-19 spread.
Nebraska is one of the first states to pilot SNAP’s online ordering platform: customers can buy anything they’d typically get at the grocery store. Andrew Vanek at the Department of Health and Human Services says the program’s been in the works since Congress paid for it in the 2014 farm bill.
“It's very similar to the online purchasing for deliveries as it stands right now," Vanek explained. "Instead of choosing a debit card as a payment method, you will choose an EBT card.”
The USDA partnered with Amazon, Dash’s Market, FreshDirect, Hy-Vee, Safeway, ShopRite, Walmart, and Wright’s Markets to provide the service. But currently in Nebraska, shoppers can only order from some from that list.
“Amazon is statewide as of today, and Walmart is actually starting with two stores, one of them in Norfolk and one of them in South Sioux City," Vanek said. "They are doing their testing for a week and then on the eighth, they should be live statewide.”
In addition to increasing overall food access, Vanek thinks online ordering will make social distancing more accessible to families who rely on food stamps to eat. How that system functions under such widespread demand for grocery delivery remains to be seen.
Depending on where a person is ordering from, there could be delivery charges associated that are not covered by SNAP credits.
"There might be some cases where if there is a delivery charge associated with it from the vendor," Vanek said. "They would have to use two different payment methods, and so that might be a little bit tricky."