The National Grocers Association (NGA) has launched the SNAP Online Purchasing Toolkit, a guide to help independent grocers accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) electronic benefit transfer (EBT) payments online.
NGA said yesterday that the SNAP Online Purchasing Toolkit streamlines the process to accept SNAP online purchasing as a payment that independent supermarkets can support. The kit provides detailed information on the SNAP online purchasing requirements retailers must meet to participate in the program; tips and instructions for setting up, including a breakdown of scenarios retailers may encounter beforehand; and best practices.
Also in the toolkit is template letter of intent for grocers to email to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS), plus background information on the program.
The guide comes as SNAP online purchasing has presented a range of challenges for independent grocers, according to NGA. Hurdles have included requirements for certain point-of-sale technology and website functions, testing at each store location, financial resources for implementing and running the program, and a lengthy application and approval process.
At the same time, retailers have felt more urgency to implement SNAP online EBT capability as consumer demand for online grocery services surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, including among SNAP recipients.
“Due to these obstacles, chain retailers often have an edge against smaller businesses,” Molly Pfaffenroth, senior director of government relations at NGA, said in a statement. “While independent grocers have aggressively pursued expansion of their e-commerce platforms to meet demand, SNAP online shoppers continue to be underserved. And for many Americans, the independent community supermarket is the only lifeline in their struggle against food insecurity.”
NGA said it created the toolkit using information from interviews with retailers, e-commerce providers and third-party processors after the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot was expanded last year.
Under the program, launched by the USDA's FNS in April 2019, 47 states and the District of Columbia now allow SNAP benefits recipients to shop and pay for groceries online from authorized retailers using their EBT cards. Currently, Alaska, Louisiana and Montana are the only states that haven’t enabled the program.
Thus far, only a dozen or so independent grocers are participating in the SNAP online purchasing program, whose nationally authorized retailers include Walmart, Amazon and Aldi. Independent retailers now offering SNAP online EBT capability include Piggly Wiggly (Alabama), Wright’s Market (Alabama), Hays Supermarket (Arkansas, Missouri), The Save Mart Cos. (California), ShopRite (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania), New Pioneer Food Co-op (Iowa), Superlo Foods (Mississippi, Tennessee), Cameron Market (Missouri), Sliced Bread Market (Missouri), Sweet Springs Market (Missouri), Woods Supermarket (Missouri), Carlie C’s (North Carolina), Price Chopper (New York) and Reasor’s (Oklahoma).
Other participating regional chain grocers and mass retailers include Publix Super Markets, Ahold Delhaize USA’s Food Lion and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Tulsa, Okla.-based Reasor’s, with 17 supermarkets and one convenience store in northeastern Oklahoma, announced last week that it has begun accepting SNAP EBT payments for online grocery orders. With the move, customers can use SNAP EBT to pay for Reasor’s Curbside Pickup and Delivery on the Reasor’s mobile app and at Reasors.com.
To use the service, shoppers first must create an account on the Reasor’s app or website. After adding groceries to their virtual cart, they select SNAP EBT as the payment method at checkout.
“We are thrilled we can offer this service. It has been on our roadmap pending approval for some time and we are thankful it has come to fruition,” CEO Jeff Reasor stated. “No doubt, consumer demand for online shopping services has increased tremendously over the past year. Now that all the governmental hurdles and testing are done, customers can enjoy the convenient, simple and safe benefits of Reasor’s online shopping.”