USDA approves North Dakota to accept SNAP benefits online
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced approval of a request from North Dakota to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program households.
This approval will allow North Dakota to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. North Dakota’s SNAP participation is more than 45,000 individuals, more than 21,000 households, and totals $68 million annually in federal benefits.
Multiple stakeholders — notably, state agencies, their third-party processor, and any retailers that wish to participate — must work together to implement online purchasing using SNAP benefits. To ease the process, FNS put together a simplified template for states that want to operate online purchasing and provided guidance to interested retailers, which is available online.
USDA continues to provide significant technical assistance to all interested stakeholders to ensure implementation plans are thorough and appropriate preliminary testing is conducted to avoid compromising the state’s entire benefit system. Each state, EBT processor, and retailer presents their own mix of challenges so FNS is providing customer service based on each of their specific needs.
Until states are prepared to operate the pilot, USDA recommends utilizing other options that retailers may already provide, such as Pay at Pick-up (also known as “Click and Collect”), where SNAP cardholders can shop online and then pay for their purchase using their EBT card at pick-up. Grocery pickup is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the growing concerns around social distancing.
During these challenging times, FNS is working hand-in-hand with state program leadership, to provide support and guidance to adapt to the challenges of this public health emergency. FNS is granting states significant program flexibility and contingencies to best serve program participants across our 15 nutrition assistance programs. For up to date information and to learn more about flexibility being used in FNS nutrition programs, visit the FNS website.