With the state’s inclusion in a federal pilot program, Missourians can now purchase groceries online through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The Department of Social Services (DSS) announced Thursday morning that online purchasing from Amazon or Walmart is officially available for those using an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. But while SNAP benefits can be used for grocery purchases, it does not cover delivery or other fees associated with these purchases.
The online purchasing option is “permanent” and “will remain an ongoing option,” a DSS spokeswoman told The Missouri Times.
The federal government launched a pilot program last year to allow for the online purchases of groceries with SNAP benefits, an effort that was born out of the 2014 Farm Bill. New York and Washington were the first states to join the program, but a bevy of others, including Missouri, have been added in during the COVID-19 pandemic as people have been encouraged to remain home as much as possible.
Missouri applied for a waiver to be included in the program on April 17, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved it — along with requests from Kentucky and Texas — on April 21.
So far, only Amazon and Walmart are approved retailers to allow online transactions using SNAP benefits. Should more retailers be approved, DSS said it would alert Missourians.
Of the 14 states included in the federal government’s pilot program, only two (Alabama and New York) have a third retailer offering this service. Washington, D.C., only allows online transactions with SNAP benefits through Amazon.
“This new option allowing SNAP households to purchase eligible foods online will relieve some of the stress Missourians face related to COVID-19 and improve access to good nutrition,” Jennifer Tidball, acting DSS director, said in a statement. “The turnaround time for making SNAP online purchasing a reality has been exceptional, and I thank all involved parties who worked quickly and very diligently to help Missourians who continue to struggle with the impact of COVID-19.”
As of April 30, 752,315 Missourians (about 360,900 households) receive food stamp or SNAP benefits, according to DSS. This is a “new record for a one-month increase in Missouri’s Food Stamp/SNAP caseload,” the department said.
In comparison, 660,628 individuals (311,401 households) were included in the program in March.
The effort to include Missouri in the program was largely championed by state Rep. Kip Kendrick.
“I am very pleased that DSS was able to get the online grocery purchasing program up and running so quickly for SNAP recipients,” Kendrick told The Missouri Times. “I’m grateful to a constituent for bringing this to my attention, and I’m happy to have played a part in making this a reality. Being able to help constituents is the best part of this job.”
More information about Missouri’s program can be found here.
More information on the federal government’s pilot program can be found here.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.