Low-income people in the state’s major food-assistance program will be able to make online grocery purchases to help protect them from the spread of COVID-19. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Saturday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had approved the online-purchase plan for Florida’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.
Nearly 3 million Floridians participate in SNAP and 1.5 million Florida households at a cost of $4 billion. SNAP is administered in the state by the Florida Department of Children and Families. DCF will ultimately determine the structure of the SNAP online program in Florida, through flexibility authorized by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Additional information on the pilot program may be found here.
The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. Nebraska joined the pilot on April 1, 2020. California and Arizona were announced on April 8, 2020. The authorized retailers working with all pilot states are Amazon and Walmart, while Wrights Market and ShopRite are working with Alabama and New York respectively. It’s not yet clear which retailers will be servicing Florida families.
Participants in the program use electronic benefits cards similar to ATM cards to buy food. “Through this innovative pilot program, SNAP households can purchase food online and pay using their EBT card at pickup, among other options,” Fried said in a prepared statement. “This reduces shopping risk from COVID-19, helps fulfill consumer demand and keeps Florida-grown products moving to families.”
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is also collaborating with the Department of Children and Families to implement the Pandemic EBT program, which will allow families whose children and eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch to receive SNAP benefits. To qualify, most households must have a gross income of less than or equal to 200 percent of the the Federal Poverty Level, which currently is $30,680 for a family of four, or $52,400 at the 200 percent level.