During the height of the pandemic, many East Boston residents did their food shopping from the comfort of their own homes.
While the online grocery delivery service industry exploded because many were not comfortable venturing into crowded grocery stores, it exposed a significant inequity for those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
Many who received benefits found that many online food shopping services lacked the ability to checkout online and pay using their SNAP/EBT cards, especially on grocery delivery platforms like Instacart.
Last week, the Baker-Polito Administration closed that loophole and announced that residents who receive SNAP/EBT benefits can use their cards to buy fresh food and pantry staples online from a variety of participating stores for same-day delivery and pickup via Instacart, including Price Chopper, ALDI and newly added Stop & Shop and Hannaford. Walmart and Amazon are also federally approved SNAP online retailers in the state.
Massachusetts first launched the SNAP online purchasing program on May 29, 2020. To date, Massachusetts residents have spent over $75 million in SNAP benefits in online grocery purchases across retailers. Similar to using SNAP/EBT benefits to purchase food in a store, benefits can be used to buy SNAP-eligible foods online, including fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy and eggs.
“SNAP online purchasing is one of several tools the Administration has employed, alongside the state’s national leadership in Pandemic EBT and continuation of SNAP Emergency Allotments, to combat food insecurity for Massachusetts individuals and families,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “SNAP remains an important tool as we start to recover from the public health crisis by putting money to buy healthy food directly into the hands of hundreds of thousands of households and supporting our local communities.”
The Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Amy Kershawa said as a result of the economic fallout of COVID-19, the state has seen a historic increase in SNAP participation, with 100,000 more households now utilizing the program for a total of approximately 550,000 households.
“Massachusetts has heavily invested in IT changes and maximized federal flexibilities to make it easier than ever to apply for SNAP and conduct convenient business with the agency 24/7 online and over the phone,” she said. “In addition to these changes, SNAP online purchasing is another tool bringing greater equity to how residents can utilize SNAP.”
Residents can shop for groceries from Stop & Shop, Hannaford, Price Chopper and ALDI via the Instacart online site and mobile app. Once an Instacart customer profile is created, customers can enter their EBT/SNAP card information as a form of payment. Customers can enter their zip code to determine if they are near a participating retailer, and begin shopping for retailers’ EBT-eligible products. Once items are added to their cart, customers will be able to select how much of their benefits they would like to allocate to the order. Orders for delivery and pickup can be placed by customers for receipt in as fast as an hour or scheduled several days in advance.
To help subsidize costs for SNAP/EBT participants, Instacart will waive delivery or pickup fees through September 16, 2021, on up to the first three orders for each customer with a valid EBT card associated with their Instacart account. For more information on EBT/SNAP on Instacart, visit: https://www.instacart.com/ebt-snap. “Providing people access to the food they love is at the core of Instacart’s mission. We’re proud to partner with Price Chopper, ALDI and now Hannaford and Stop & Shop to provide more families in Massachusetts with a convenient and accessible way to get their fresh food and pantry staples,” said David Healy, Retail Partnerships at Instacart. “Expanding EBT/SNAP to reach same-day online grocery delivery and pickup is important to help people access the food they need, and we look forward to expanding this payment integration to even more retailers across Massachusetts