Instacart said more than half of all retailers now accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) electronic benefits transfer (EBT) payments for online grocery orders received their federal certification through its e-commerce platform.
After a yearlong expansion program, Instacart’s SNAP EBT online footprint now reaches over 25 million food insecure people nationwide, the San Francisco-based e-grocery giant reported Wednesday. Instacart said that, since launching SNAP EBT payments on its platform with Aldi U.S. in November 2020, more than 40 retail partners spanning 5,600-plus stores in 39 states and Washington, D.C., have added that capability.
Under the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) in April 2019, 47 states and the District of Columbia now allow SNAP beneficiaries to shop and pay for groceries online. Instacart said it’s the only online grocery platform to “pioneer” the retailer onboarding process for SNAP EBT certification.
Over the past year, retailers enabling SNAP EBT payments for Instacart orders have included Ahold Delhaize USA, Brookshire Grocery Co., Earth Fare, Fairplay Foods, Food Bazaar, Harps Foods, Homeland, Little Giant Farmer’s Market, My County Market, PAQ Inc. (Food 4 Less California and Rancho San Miguel), Price Chopper/Market 32, Publix Super Markets, The Save Mart Cos., Schnuck Markets, Strack & Van Til, Tops Friendly Markets, Wakefern Food Corp. and Woodman’s Markets, among others.
“We believe grocery delivery and pickup shouldn’t be a luxury for some; they should be accessible to everyone,” Instacart CEO Fidji Simo said in a statement. “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made since launching EBT SNAP payments and are grateful to our retail and USDA FNS partners for helping us bridge the food accessibility gap for millions of Americans.”
Besides expanding SNAP EBT online access across the marketplace, Instacart noted that it has integrated the payment functionality across retailer web and mobile platforms — including retailer-owned websites and apps — powered by Instacart enterprise technology. Enterprise partners include BJ’s Wholesale Club, Brookshire’s, Food Bazaar, Food Lion, Harps Food Stores, Homeland, Publix, Save Mart, Schnucks, Strack & Van Til, Tops and Wakefern.
New offerings and integrations also are being introduced to extend Instacart’s SNAP EBT reach. For example, Instacart is now enabling some retail partners to accept SNAP EBT payments through its virtual Convenience Hub, a recently launched product experience on the Instacart Marketplace for fast delivery of convenience items and household essentials, such as fresh produce, pantry staples or last-minute dinner ingredients. Instacart said SNAP EBT convenience delivery — in as soon as 30 minutes — is now via Ahold Delhaize USA supermarket banners Stop & Shop (Stop & Shop Express), Giant Food Convenience (Giant Food), The Giant Company (Giant/Martin’s Instant Delivery), Food Lion (Food Lion Now) and Hannaford (Hannaford Now).
For SNAP recipients, Instacart said it will subsidize costs by waiving delivery and pickup fees on all SNAP EBT orders from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2022. A valid EBT card is required for online purchases must be linked to an Instacart account. The new promotion follows Instacart’s offer of free delivery or pickup for the first three SNAP EBT customer orders for the past year.
“Looking ahead, we’re committed to expanding our EBT SNAP offering and investing in additional programs that offer consumers more accessible, affordable and nutritious ways to feed their families,” Simo added.
At stores offering both Instacart delivery and pickup, SNAP EBT customers mostly use delivery service, Instacart data show. SNAP EBT orders on Instacart are most often placed within the first three weeks of the month, since EBT cards typically are reloaded at the start of each month, Instacart said. The most frequently shopped “aisles” for SNAP EBT Instacart orders include produce, frozen food, dairy and eggs, beverages, meat and seafood.
“We’re proud to have paved the way as the first grocery retailer to introduce EBT SNAP online payment with Instacart,” Aldi U.S. Co-President Brent Laubaugh stated. “We share in Instacart’s mission to increase food access for those who need it most. Offering the best possible prices on groceries is what we’re all about — you can see that in our low prices, every day. We look forward to continuing our partnership to help millions of families put food on the table across the country.”
SNAP EBT participants can shop from retailers through the Instacart website and mobile app as well as retailerswebsites and apps. 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 needed. Next, customers enter their ZIP code to find a participating store, and then they can start shopping from SNAP EBT-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 ready them for pickup or delivery in the designated time frame.