How To Buy Groceries Online With Food Stamps

Unforeseen national and personal events can plunge families into poverty within weeks or months. While food insecurity has been a problem in the United States for decades, the recent recession in the United States has made it even more difficult for families to feed themselves.

The projected annual food insecurity rate in the United States, defined as the lack of consistent access to enough food for a healthy life, has risen 4.1% for adults and 4.9% for children since 2018, according to a Feeding America Fall 2020 Report.

Food stamps can help boost families who don't have enough money to eat, but recipients may not know how to use food stamps online. Learn how food stamps can help you and how to use them correctly online.

What are food stamps?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides assistance to low-income people in the form of food stamps used to buy certain types of food. SNAP is a federal program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has a network of local offices.

State agencies determine eligibility for SNAP benefits, and you can use the USDA state directory to find your specific state. If you apply online, you will need to register for an account and complete an application online. Most states rely on paper applications and you may have the option of submitting your application by mail or fax. Check directly with your state agency for more information on the application process.

The maximum amount of monthly Food Stamps you can get varies depending on where you live and the number of people in your household. The following list shows the various maximum amounts of assistance for a family of four:

  • Continental United States and Washington, D.C .: $ 782
  • Alaska: $ 963 to $ 1,495
  • Hawaii: $ 1,440
  • Guam: $ 1,153
  • US Virgin Islands: $ 1,005

Generally, it takes up to 30 days to find out if you are eligible for SNAP benefits. However, if your home has less than $ 150 in gross monthly income and less than $ 100 in net assets, or if your rent, mortgage, and utilities exceed that amount, you may be eligible for approval within seven days.

You can use food stamps to buy the following: meat, poultry, and fish; Vegetables and fruits; Bread and cereals; dairy products; food; and seeds and plants that produce food. You can't use food stamps to buy tobacco, wine, beer, liquor, vitamins, prepared foods, and non-food items like cosmetics, toiletries, and cleaning supplies.

The Dangers of Grocery Shopping During COVID-19

A steady supply of food is essential while crouching, but walking through the market can be a risk in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. This is due to the close contact scenarios found in these types of environments.

One study, conducted in a Boston supermarket, found that 20% of employees tested positive for coronavirus. The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, also found that 76% of workers who tested positive were asymptomatic.

But the infection works both ways: Because supermarket workers come into contact with so many different shoppers, they are also more likely to infect shoppers. And for some groups, contracting COVID-19 is significantly more dangerous.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that there are at least 25 million Americans living in low-income families who are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends ordering online or using curbside pickup as a safer option for buying food. However, if you use food stamps, can you take advantage of grocery delivery or car delivery options?

Where can you use food stamps online?

According to George Birrell, CPA and founder of TaxHub, there are a few options for people looking to buy food online.

"If you are looking to buy food online but are going to a store to pick it up, you can choose to pick it up at some Safeway, Vons and Albertsons stores, if the specific store near you offers this option," Birrell told The Balance via email.

If you prefer to have your food delivered, Walmart and Amazon allow you to use your Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, a payment system used by SNAP participants, and opt for delivery.

In fact, Shannon Payton, a certified credit counselor for Payton Credit Services, said she frequently recommends that recipients of food stamps use the Walmart collection.

"During the pandemic, food stamps were provided to more families to feed the little ones at home," Payton told The Balance by email. "This is a safer and more efficient way to shop, and not only do they carry your trunk, but you can also save on your bill by shopping from home, reducing the risk of starvation."

Here are just a few of the businesses that accept businesses that accept food stamps for online purchases (for delivery or pickup):

  • Walmart
  • Amazon
  • Safeway
  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Kroger
  • ShopRite
  • FreshDirect
  • Aldi

How to use food stamps for online food purchases

The rules for using food stamps online vary by retailer. For example, when shopping on Amazon, you will add your SNAP EBT card, then make purchases, and when you have made the payment, you will enter your EBT PIN to pay for eligible purchases.

For pickup at Walmart, you will order groceries online or through the Walmart grocery mobile app. During checkout, select EBT as your payment method. And when you arrive at the pickup location, the Walmart member will use a handheld card reader to swipe their EBT card.

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