This article originally appeared in the August 2021 edition of Senior Scope. Article by Seth Thomas.
On July 14, the Baker Administration announced that those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can now use their EBT SNAP benefits to buy select grocery items online via Instacart, Price Chopper, ALDI, Hannaford, and Stop & Shop. These new retail locations have been added to Walmart and Amazon, which also accept SNAP benefits for buying groceries online.
The state launched the SNAP online purchasing program last May in response to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. According to a release from the state, Massachusetts residents have spent over $75 million in SNAP benefits in online grocery purchases across retailers since the program began on May 29, 2020.
Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Amy Kershaw said the pandemic caused a historic increase in SNAP participation. More than 100,000 households began participating in the program, bringing the total number of participating households in the state to about 550,000.
Last fall, during the SouthCoast Food Security Summit held at UMass Dartmouth, the president of Project Bread, a state-wide anti-hunger organization, urged those struggling to access food to sign up for SNAP.
At the time, the pandemic had strained the country’s food supply chain and drove unemployment, leaving many families with little money to spend on groceries. As a result, Americans were relying heavily on food pantries.
As the demand at food pantries and charities surged, Project Bread, which operates a resource hotline, directed the public to more sustainable, often underutilized food relief programs that receive federal funding, like SNAP, WIC, school meal programs and Meals on Wheels.
Similar to using EBT SNAP benefits to purchase food in a store, benefits can now be used to buy SNAP-eligible foods online, including fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy and eggs.
Residents can shop for groceries from Hannaford, Stop & Shop, 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 in as fast as an hour or scheduled several days in advance.
To help subsidize costs for EBT SNAP participants, Instacart will waive delivery or pickup fees through Sept. 16 on up to the first three EBT SNAP orders for each customer with a valid EBT card associated with their Instacart account.
For more information on EBT SNAP on Instacart, visit: www.instacart.com/ebt-snap.
SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for fees, like delivery fees. Economic assistance programs benefits received through DTA, which include Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC), and State Supplement Payments (SSP) cannot be used to purchase items online at this time.
Residents can check their SNAP eligibility and apply online or over the phone at 877-382-2363.
SNAP will not impact immigration status and is not considered in the public charge test. It is safe for individuals and families to get benefits they are eligible for.