Deep discount grocer Aldi plans to enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants across more than a quarter of its store base to directly pay for Instacart online grocery orders via electronic benefit transfer (EBT).
San Francisco-based Instacart said Thursday integrated EBT payment for SNAP grocery purchase is slated to launch at more than 60 Aldi stores in Georgia in the coming weeks and then expand to more than 570 Aldi stores in Illinois, California, Florida and Pennsylvania in the upcoming months.
With the move, EBT SNAP participants will be able to buy fresh food and grocery essentials from Aldi through Instacart’s same-day delivery and pickup services, the companies noted.
“Enabling customers to use their SNAP/EBT benefits for their grocery delivery and curbside pickup orders is an important extension of our in-store payment policy,” Aldi U.S. Co-President Brent Laubaugh said in a statement. “While the option is only available in select markets at the moment, we’re eager to roll out this update broadly as quickly as possible.”
Through the initial launch in Georgia, EBT SNAP participants will be able to shop Aldi via the retailer’s page on Instacart online marketplace and mobile app. After setting up an Instacart profile, customers enter their EBT food card information as a form of payment. A secondary form of payment for nonfood items — such as taxes, tips and fees, according to SNAP guidelines — also will be need. Next, customers enter their ZIP code to find a participating Aldi store, and then they can start shopping from Aldi’s EBT SNAP-eligible products. After filling their virtual shopping carts, customers select delivery or pickup and determine how much of their SNAP benefits they would like to allocate to the order.
Instacart personal shoppers then pick and pack customers’ orders and then ready them for pickup or delivery in the designated time frame, which can be as soon as possible or scheduled days in advance. Aldi delivery and pickup through Instacart operates daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“It’s incredibly important to us to support the communities in which our own employees live and work, so we’re excited to start this program in Georgia, which is home to our Atlanta-based customer and shopper care team,” Instacart President Nilam Ganenthiran commented. “We’re proud to partner with Aldi on this important initiative and are committed to being a long-term solution for EBT SNAP households and connecting everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, to the groceries and essential goods they need.”
Currently, Instacart delivers from Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi’s more than 2,000 stores in 36 states. Aldi announced its partnership with Instacart in August 2017, starting with a pilot at stores in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles, and then rolled out Instacart online grocery delivery chainwide in the fall of 2018. And after a pilot in selected markets, Aldi rolled out Instacart curbside pickup to nearly 600 stores this summer. Instacart pickup service is now available in almost 700 Aldi stores.
Under the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) in April 2019, 46 states and the District of Columbia now allow SNAP beneficiaries to shop and pay for groceries online.
Instacart said the introduction of its integrated EBT SNAP payment comes as the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has increased food insecurity nationwide. Because of the pandemic, more than 54 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020, includes a potential 18 million children, according to Feeding America. In Georgia, food insecurity impacts 12.5% of the population and disproportionately affects communities of color, Instacart reported.
“As the nation continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19,” Ganenthiran stated, “we recognize Instacart has an opportunity to increase access to fresh, nutritious food and pantry staples by unlocking EBT SNAP payments for online grocery delivery and pickup services in communities across the country.”