May 26, 2020
Pennsylvania residents who receive SNAP benefits soon will be able to buy their groceries online, enabling them to avoid stores during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal restrictions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and e-commerce previously prevented them from doing so.
But Pennsylvania is joining a pilot program that enables SNAP recipients to use their benefits to buy groceries online from Amazon, Walmart and ShopRite, state officials announced last week. New Jersey residents also are gaining the same opportunity.
Pennsylvania recipients should be able to begin purchasing groceries online by June. Officials are working with retailers to implement the system changes needed to permit online purchases.
Without the ability to shop online, SNAP recipients lacked the same opportunities to socially distance and reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19, state officials said. They noted many SNAP recipients are elderly or have medical conditions that make the coronavirus more threatening to their health.
Only food items typically covered by SNAP will be eligible. SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay delivery fees, driver tips and other associated charges. Also, the pilot program does not allow recipients to transact cash assistance benefits using their Electronic Benefit Transfer card.
About 1.8 million Pennsylvania residents receive SNAP benefits. Recipients receive benefits starting at $194 per month. That assistance is placed onto their EBT cards and can be used to buy groceries.
Nineteen states, including New York, are currently participating in the pilot program. Another 18, including Ohio, have been approved to participate, but their programs are not yet live.
More information is available here.