Shriver Center Endorses Legislation to Expand SNAP to Online Grocers

The Expanding SNAP Options Act proposed by Sen. Duckworth and Sen. Durbin will allow SNAP beneficiaries to grocery shop online to increase customer convenience and stay safe during this pandemic

Everyone deserves enough food to lead a healthy life.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is our nation’s most effective anti-hunger program and is an essential tool in the fight against poverty.

Currently, SNAP recipients are limited to the very few USDA approved retailers for online grocery purchase, due to technical and financial barriers, leaving them with fewer safe food options. Expanding the program to additional online grocers will keep families safe and allow them to put food on the table at a time where they need it most.

Illinois continues to lead other states in helping people access food during the pandemic, and the proposed expansion would allow the nearly 2 million Illinoisans receiving SNAP to safely grocery shop online.

The bill would require the Secretary of Agriculture to implement online SNAP purchasing in all states and provide funding to create an online portal to securely use SNAP with local grocers.

As unemployment and food insecurity have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Americans who rely on SNAP has increased. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures have made grocery shopping more difficult, with many turning to online services to get food delivered to their homes.

However, families on SNAP have faced difficulty ordering online. Due to technical and financial barriers, families using SNAP only have Walmart and Amazon as grocery options.

The Expanding SNAP Options Act (S. 4202), introduced by Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, would expand online SNAP purchasing to every state and provide funding for online assistance along with the development of a safe portal to support small retailers who currently do not have the technology to allow online SNAP purchasing. Because these retailers often operate and deliver food in Black and Brown neighborhoods it will expand food access for people who have the highest death rates and unemployment rates during the pandemic.

In July we expect Congress to take up legislation to provide additional economic and other supports to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on low income people.

Contact your Senator and Representative and urge them to include this important bill in that larger economic package.

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Our laws and policies must support people by ensuring fair work at a living wage and by providing the income supports families need to be successful.

Systemic inequities and the legacy of structural racism make it harder for low-income people and people of color to achieve financial stability.

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