Food Lion has partnered with Instacart to enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to directly pay for online grocery orders through electronic benefit transfer (EBT).
San Francisco-based Instacart said Thursday that the capability is now available at more than 350 Food Lion supermarkets across North Carolina, covering about a third of the Ahold Delhaize USA chain’s store base. Food Lion shoppers receiving SNAP benefits can use the new EBT service for both online grocery delivery and pickup orders.
Currently, SNAP EBT payments are available only through the Instacart marketplace. At the site, Food Lion SNAP EBT customers select their local store and then shop eligible products. After adding items to their virtual cart, customers designate the amount of their benefits that they would like to allocate to the order, choose pickup or delivery, and then complete their transaction.
Food Lion provides online grocery delivery and pickup under the Food Lion To-Go brand via its website and mobile app, both powered by Instacart Enterprise. SNAP EBT payment capability will be enabled on the Food Lion site and app in the coming months, according to Instacart.
To help subsidize costs for SNAP beneficiaries, Instacart will waive delivery and/or pickup fees for the first three EBT SNAP orders through March 16. Customers must have a valid EBT card associated with their Instacart account.
Instacart and Food Lion have partnered since 2016, and the Salisbury, N.C.-based grocer currently offers same-day delivery and pickup at more than 600 of its 1,000-plus stores in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
The launch comes after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved North Carolina as the first state for Instacart and Food Lion’s EBT SNAP partnership, the online grocery giant said. Plans call for the capability to roll out to Food Lion stores in Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia in the coming weeks.
Instacart noted that the partnership with Food Lion marks its second with a food retailer, the first being its EBT SNAP integration with discount grocer Aldi in October 2020. The payment service first launched at more than 60 Aldi stores in Georgia and then rolled out to more than 570 Aldi stores in Illinois, California, Florida and Pennsylvania in the ensuing months. That was followed in December with an expansion to another 1,000 Aldi stores, with the service now at the chain’s stores in 29 states — including North Carolina — and the District of Columbia.
Under the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, launched by the USDA's FNS in April 2019, 47 states and the District of Columbia now allow SNAP beneficiaries to shop and pay for groceries online.
Instacart’s move to integrate EBT SNAP payment came amid increased food insecurity nationwide due to the coronavirus crisis.
“As the country continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19, we believe 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,” Instacart said in a statement.