Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP, can pay in store at most major grocery chains — including "specialty" grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Aldi — using Electronic Benefits Transfer cards. But, until recently, EBT wasn't a widely available payment option online. Now, through the expedited expansion of an online purchasing pilot program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, households receiving SNAP benefits in 46 states and the District of Columbia can use EBT to pay for grocery pickup and/or delivery from select retailers (though not for associated service fees).
Arkansas has been added to the list of participating states, which now includes: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Alaska, Louisiana, Maine, and Montana are the only states that are not part of the program.
In addition to the many SNAP policy and procedure updates made in light of the current health crisis, families with children who normally would receive free or reduced-price school lunches became eligible for special pandemic EBT benefits during school closures under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. The P-EBT program has been adjusted to account for hybrid school schedules in many states and extended through September 2021. Check your local Department of Human Services to find out more about pandemic relief initiatives, payout amounts, and application periods in your area.
Below, we've rounded up the retailers now accepting EBT payments for groceries ordered online. Several new retailers have been added in recent months — most notably, discount grocer Aldi, where you can now use EBT for deliveries via Instacart, the popular grocery service. Instacart has said it may expand the service to more states and retailers in the near future as part of a commitment to address food access concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. Government sources suggest that online shopping options for SNAP beneficiaries should soon include more independently owned and operated grocery stores. Steps are being taken to expand online purchasing options to WIC recipients, as well. We'll continue to update this story as more retailers participate and as active stores expand their EBT pickup and delivery payment policies.
Walmart started rolling out the option to pay for grocery pickup with EBT as early as 2017. EBT payments can now be made online at most locations in the states approved for the SNAP online purchasing pilot, although the service has not yet been implemented in the District of Columbia. At eligible local stores, users signing in to their online accounts, or shopping via app, can save EBT card information under "Payment Methods." Approved delivery locations are less widespread than access to grocery pickup, however, and in a handful of states, users ordering groceries online must still swipe their EBT cards at pickup to finalize payment.
On Amazon, SNAP recipients can order SNAP-approved food items online and pay with EBT in the District of Columbia and participating states (except Hawaii). EBT cardholders can use the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service without paying for Prime membership, which is usually required, and will also have access to many Whole Foods products through Amazon Pantry, Amazon Grocery, and Amazon Fresh. Qualifying beneficiaries with an EBT or Medicaid card who wish to sign up for Prime membership are eligible for a 50% discount.
If you live in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, or Texas, you can now shop online for EBT SNAP-eligible purchases from Aldi: Instacart began accepting EBT for same-day delivery and pickup options at the store in late October. Aldi shoppers can place online orders via Instacart and enter EBT-card information at checkout for items covered under SNAP. A credit or debit card must be used for non-eligible costs, including delivery and service fees, taxes, tips, and bottle deposit fees in some states.
FreshDirect, an online grocery delivery service that primarily serves the New York metropolitan area, delivers for free to SNAP beneficiaries in select ZIP codes in the Bronx, with no taxes or surcharges. A minimum $30 order threshold does remain in place, however, and customers must swipe their cards at the time of delivery.
Kroger announced in April that it would add a SNAP/EBT payment option for grocery pickup. The service is now live at all locations where pickup is available (although it does not extend to Kroger-owned Mariano's stores).
ShopRite accepts EBT for grocery delivery orders at select stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, although some locations may allow EBT payment only for pickup orders. Check your local ShopRite store to see which services are available.
The Fresh Grocer
The most recent addition to the list of participating retailers, The Fresh Grocer has a strong ethos of community engagement and support. The seven-store chain, a member of the same cooperative network of independently owned retail supermarkets as ShopRite (Wakefern Food Corp.), is now accepting EBT for online groceries at all its New Jersey and Pennsylvania locations.
After a long wait, shoppers paying with SNAP EBT can now order groceries for pickup at a handful of Safeway locations in states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington, as well as a single store in the District of Columbia. Safeway's website (see "How do I pay for my order?") also suggests that Arizona EBT users with disabilities may call customer support for assistance with online grocery delivery: (877) 505-4040. Albertsons shoppers using EBT online are covered for pickup orders at locations in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.
Popular Midwestern grocery chain Hy-Vee has also been accepted into the USDA pilot program. Although was slower to roll out the service, Hy-Vee is now taking EBT payments for grocery pickup at 260 of its stores, including Dollar Fresh and Hy-Vee Drugstore locations. We'd recommend keeping an eye on its customer support pages for additional options.
Texans shopping at H-E-B can currently use SNAP EBT payments for curbside pickup at about 45 of the chain's locations, from Corpus Christi to Austin. The online service accepts split payments for eligible and non-eligible items, and discounts from manufacturers' coupons are credited back to EBT accounts when orders are fulfilled.
Carlie C's IGA
Options for SNAP EBT online grocery shopping in North Carolina expanded in October when Carlie C's joined the ranks of major retailers Amazon and Walmart. The store has 25 locations in the Raleigh-Fayetteville region. Online shoppers searching the website can check a box to filter items based on SNAP EBT eligibility.
Residents of the Buffalo, New York, area may soon be able to order groceries online from local chain Dash's Market and pay with their EBT cards. The chain was among the first cohort to join the SNAP online purchasing pilot program, with an anticipated launch in 2017, but its stores have yet to offer EBT ordering.
Family-owned Wright's Market in Opelika, Alabama, is one of the smaller grocery stores to be accepted into the USDA's program, but it's big on offering full service to SNAP beneficiaries: Groceries can be purchased online with EBT and Wright's will deliver directly to customers' doorsteps. Shoppers cannot use benefits to pay delivery fees or any associated charges, however.