For Immediate Release:
Oct. 9, 2020
Chief of Communications
Deputy Chief of Communications
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Now Offers New Buying Option
State launches SNAP program for clients to purchase eligible food items online.
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Clients who get food assistance benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) now have the option to order groceries and pay online through participating retailers, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today.
In late July, the Food Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Arkansas’s request to join the nationwide pilot. Because of the public health emergency, USDA allowed states to expedite participation in what had been a limited pilot to give clients alternatives to in-person shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Walmart is the first active retailer in the SNAP Online program in Arkansas. Amazon plans to become an active retailer in Arkansas by the end of November. Both Walmart and Amazon were part of the original nationwide pilot through the USDA.
Other local retailers have expressed interest in joining the Online SNAP program, and they will be able to complete the process with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service now that Arkansas’s Online SNAP program is active.
“We know many clients may need to limit their trips out in public, either because they have health conditions that create a greater risk for COVID-19 complications or have a loved one in their home who they are trying to protect,” said Mary Franklin, Director of the DHS Division of County Operations. “These clients, just like everyone else, need to buy groceries to feed their families. We hope that the SNAP online option will give them safe alternatives that help them both meet their needs and protect the health of their loved ones.”
All SNAP clients will be able to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to shop and pay online through participating retailers for eligible food items. SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay membership or delivery fees. Clients can add the items to their carts, choose EBT as their payment method, enter their PIN number, and choose pick-up or delivery options as needed.
SNAP currently serves about 185,000 families and a total of 390,000 people in Arkansas.
For retailers to participate in online purchasing, they must be able to meet federal online purchasing requirements such as the ability to ensure eligible and non-eligible items (such as delivery fees and paper products) can be paid for separately during the online transaction.
Through some retailers, SNAP clients have been able to shop online and arrange for pick-up and payment at the store. That option will still be available to clients from retailers that offer it. SNAP Online purchasing offers an alternative for clients to both shop and pay online.