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Missouri approved to allow SNAP benefits to cover online grocery purchases

Missouri will soon be able to allow online grocery purchases with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits after receiving approval from the federal government Tuesday. 

The state had sought a waiver to be included in a small federal pilot program during the ongoing global pandemic. Missouri is under a stay at home order until early May, and individuals are asked to practice social distancing and find alternative ways to buy groceries, such as through pick-up or delivery services. 

However, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase groceries online without a waiver from the federal government. 

The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) applied for the waiver on April 17, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the approval Tuesday. Kentucky and Texas were also greenlighted to join the program. 

The target date for Missouri’s official inclusion in the program will be announced at a later time, USDA said. 

“This announcement further demonstrates President Trump’s whole of America approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring those affected are fed,” the USDA said in a news release. 

Amazon and Walmart have agreed to be retailers for the program in Missouri, although the state’s waiver did ask that additional grocery retailers be included. 

Nearly 650,000 Missourians — which includes about 300,000 households — are included in the SNAP program. 

USDA launched a pilot program in April 2019 allowing online purchasing with SNAP benefits in New York. Washington joined the program in January 2020; Alabama, Iowa, and Oregon were included in March; and Nebraska was added in April. 

Additionally, Arizona, California, Idaho, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., have been approved to implement online purchasing in April or May. 

Both Amazon and Walmart are retailers for all of the states with the program up and running. Alabama and New York have additional retailers as well. 

Under the program, only eligible food can be bought using SNAP benefits. Delivery fees and other related charges are not covered by SNAP benefits, the USDA said. 

State Rep. Kip Kendrick, who has been a vocal proponent of this change, said he was “very pleased” by the news. 

“While it will take some time for the program to become operational in Missouri, I know that the Department of Social Services will prioritize it,” Kendrick told The Missouri Times. “I appreciate how responsive DSS was in submitting the waiver and moving this program forward.” 

Sen. Caleb Rowden echoed those sentiments on social media: “Good news here! Let’s work to get this up and running ASAP!”

As of Monday afternoon, more than 5,800 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 77 have died. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.