SNAP food assistance expands rapidly to U.S. online grocers

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SNAP food assistance expands rapidly to U.S. online grocers

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service announced Friday that they are piloting two only-online retailers, Thrive and DashMart, as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aimed at providing food assistance to low-income people.

The news came two days after the food delivery app DoorDash and Walgreens, the second-largest pharmacy chain in the United States, announced a collaboration to allow delivery purchases using SNAP and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) payments. 

The efforts to expand SNAP access to eGrocery stores seek to modernize and expand access to nutritious foods for low-income families. 

The digital grocery initiative is especially targeted to people living in areas with limited access to healthy foods, the USDA said, “allowing them the same convenience and variety of options enjoyed by all Americans when it comes to grocery shopping.” 

DoorDash SNAP/EBT expansion 

Meanwhile, DoorDash's expansion of its SNAP/EBT offering through Walgreens will provide access to nearly 7,800 stores across the country. 

According to the VP of New Verticals, Fuad Hannon, since enabling SNAP/EBT payments on DoorDash in 2023, over 1.1 million consumers have added their SNAP/EBT cards to the app. 

“This first-of-its-kind partnership with Walgreens offers convenient and critical access to food and pantry essentials for families and individuals across the country. We’re proud to remove as many barriers as possible when it comes to connecting people with food, wherever they live and however they choose to shop,” he said. 

DoorDash also accepts SNAP payments for purchases from the retail grocers Food Lion and Aldi.

The platform will offer more than 4,000 SNAP-eligible products with delivery within an hour. Service fees, small order fees, surge fees, gratuities, order minimums, and/or taxes will not be exempted from the total cost. 

One in 8 U.S. residents to benefit

The SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps, provides electronic cash, known as EBTs, to low-income families to supplement their grocery budget and provide nutritious food essentials. A household qualifies for the program if its gross monthly income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty level. 

This is one of the larger federal social welfare initiatives in the United States. In April 2023, 41.9 million people in 22.2 million households received SNAP benefits. That translates to 12.5% of the total U.S. population.

In 2021, President Joe Biden announced the nation’s largest increase in SNAP/EBT benefits, leading average benefits to rise more than 25% from pre-pandemic levels.

In September 2022, the Biden-Harris administration announced a commitment of more than $8 billion to “catalyze action for the millions of Americans struggling with food insecurity and diet-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.”

A significant part of that money has gone to improve and expand SNAP/EBT benefits. 

Due to high price inflation since the pandemic, grocery sales in the U.S are projected to grow at a slower rate than previously expected. 

The online grocery category or eGrocery, however, is projected to increase three times faster than the 1.3% rate anticipated for the in-store segment over the next five years, according to the U.S. eGrocery Sales Forecast 2024-2028.

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