On Thursday, July 2, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020, legislation that reduces barriers for independent grocers to participate in the SNAP Online Purchasing program. The National Grocers Association supports the bill.
“NGA is pleased to support the Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020. This legislation will be instrumental in helping grocers process online SNAP payments, allowing them to expand their e-commerce offerings to their SNAP customer base and benefit low-income households, the elderly and disabled Americans,” said NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara. “As the food retail industry experiences a shift toward online transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical for all independents to have an opportunity to offer SNAP online, a process that can be resource and labor intensive. This legislation offered by Senators Durbin and Duckworth will benefit retailers who want to participate in SNAP online but lack the resources to do so.”
Through the SNAP public-private partnership, independent supermarkets serve tens of millions of Americans in need of food assistance, ensuring low-income households have access to nutritional food options. During the COVID-19 pandemic the grocery industry saw an increase in customers using online and delivery services to purchase products. At the same time, the number of Americans participating in SNAP dramatically increased; however, as of March, only a few states and retailers had the authority to allow SNAP participants to use online services to purchase groceries. USDA effectively responded to this concern by expanding its SNAP online purchasing pilot program and allowing additional states and retailers to participate. SNAP online purchasing is now approved in 43 states and the District of Columbia, but many independent retailers still face barriers in offering the program to customers. Getting set up to accept SNAP payments online is a lengthy process that requires a certain point-of-sale technology and website functions, approval by USDA and a testing period.
The Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020 is designed to expand SNAP online to more retail locations by doing the following:
- Creates a technical assistance center designed to provide support to independent grocers that lack capacity and resources to support SNAP online purchasing;
- Provides grants to retailers who need financial assistance in offering SNAP online;
- Develops an online and app-based portal for EBT redemption to support smaller retailers in offering products for online SNAP purchasing; and
- Expands SNAP online to all states nationwide.
Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House in the coming days. NGA is working to pass the legislation through Congress before it adjourns for the August recess.
NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry.
The association also recently urged federal agencies to take swift action to address a nationwide shortage of coins. See story, here.