Walmart announced that to it has taken a big decision to better serve those 44 million poor American on food assistance program of SNAP by allowing them to pay for online grocery orders using SNAP benefits at its 2500 pickup location. The addition of the service marks a prominent achievement for the company, which also aims to enlarge pickup locations to total more than 3,100 at the end of 2019, according to the statement of the company’s spokesperson.

 

According to Walmart official statement, buying online through SNAP benefits is similar to paying with debit or credit card. The SNAP participants will have to select ‘EBT Card’ as a payment choice when shopping on their website and the orders can then be picked up at any location after providing EBT card to the store associate. Walmart said that it is the first retailer in the country to offer this method for online grocery pickup to the people at government assistance at this scale.

 

As shopping has become part of every day’s life for the majority of people of every income group and applying the online shopping facility to food stamps is a logical step in the company’s part. The initiative can considerably boost access, particularly for SNAP participants who are generally located in the areas which no decent grocery store or have very limited grocery choices.  This development is also remarkable because SNAP is administered by one of the largest government agencies in the U.S., which can be slow to modernize.

 

PILOT PROJECT

Initially authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, the USDA’s online grocery pilot slowly extended, it started with a click-and-collect pilot project in New York two years ago with Walmart. The SNAP program stays one of the most significant national food assistance programs for over 42 million low-income Americans. In the fiscal year 2017, the program benefited an estimated 2.9 million people in New York State.

 

The recent decision is not taken unexpectedly; rather it is the product of the 2017 test of this facility through the said pilot program in collaboration with USDA, which was found working and having potential benefits for both the superstores giant and the millions of SNAP participants. At the same time, WALMART is also taking part in a program launched by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows the SNAP recipients to shop groceries online.

OTHER COMPANIES TO OFFER ONLINE SHOPPING TO SNAP RECIPIENTS

This initiative is not taken only by WALMART but there has been a changing trend during the last few years among retailers who are expanding such services to reach a huge market of low-income American households. Amazon, for example, has also open discount services for people on government assistance by offering the SNAP recipients a 50 percent discount at its Prime subscription.

Other than Walmart, other major American retailers including Amazon, dash’s Market, Hy-Vee, Shoprite, and Safeway are also offering the same facility at some level by Walmart is the first retailer to offer the facility at that scale. It

HOW TO SHOP

All the SNAP recipients have to do is to visit walmart.com/grocery or by using Walmart Grocery mobile application enter their ZIP Codes on the Walmart website, to select the nearest store, begin adding items to the cart, at checkout they have to select the pickup time and mark ‘EBT’ as the payment mode. At the time they arrive at the particular store they just have to park at the reserved Grocery Pickup point in the parking lot and hand over their EBT card to the store associate who will fetch their order for them.

 

The SNAP payment choice will make the grocery shopping easier for more SNAP customers, especially those who have disabilities or who are very old to pick up their orders without even leaving their cars.

 

BENEFITS

The SNAP participants can often save money by availing the facility to shop online as better deals (with discounts) are available which they cannot have in the local stores.

Shopping the groceries online can save a lot of time especially for those low-income Americans who are doing multiple jobs, working single mothers.

In addition to offering online shopping, Walmart announced in April 2019 when it Participated in the USDA pilot program intended to test the practicality of accepting SNAP benefits on grocery retailers’ websites both for pickup and delivery service. Besides Walmart, other leading American retailers including Amazon, dash’s Market, Hy-Vee, Fresh Direct, Peapod, and Saveway, etc. participated in the said pilot project. So it can be said with surety that the grocery shopping for SNAP participants is going to get as easy as for other Americans with cash, debit or credit cards as payment options.

Another welcoming announcement by Walmart for the SNAP households is the $98 annual grocery delivery subscription to in-home delivery. The delivery fees, in this case, have to be paid by the shoppers themselves and not through EBT. To save money on the delivery fees the big retailers are offering discounts on the annual packages.

Walmart’s spokesperson said that their goal is to be able to offer the SNAP households the facility to use food stamps to make online purchases in their homes, regardless of the fact where they live.

 

ISSUES

There are a few potential challenges for the customers in availing of this practical facility. It is estimated that over 75 percent of Americans have access to the internet at home while those with bellow $30,000 annual income are around 56 percent while a recent study carried out by the Pew Research Center found that 25 percent of the low-income Americans (SNAP recipients) are ‘Smartphone only’ users. This fact made the current facility offered by Walmart irrelevant for many.

 

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