Payments

With the support from grocers and payment processors, access to SNAP online grocery shopping continues to grow

“We believe that grocery ecommerce should not be a luxury,” Instacart told us.
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Instacart

· 3 min read

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Of the 21+ million US households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, only 3 million of them bought groceries online in May 2022, up from 35,000 in March 2020.

The number has gradually risen since the first grocers began accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) SNAP payments online in 2019, supported by the USDA Food and Nutrition (FNS) SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot. But there’s more ground to cover: about 250,000 retail locations accept these benefits in physical stores, yet still only a small percentage do online. Here are the latest movements to expand access:

In the cart: Late last month, Instacart announced consumers in 10 more states are able to buy groceries on its platform using SNAP EBT through Albertsons and Sprouts. Its Carrot Payments offering now allows these payments across 49 states and Washington, DC. (The lone holdout is Alaska, which has yet to approve SNAP EBT online payments.)

  • Instacart said it supports these payments across 60+ retail banners, including Meijer, Price Chopper/Market 32, and Tops Friendly Markets.

“This is a massive milestone for both SNAP EBT customers and the grocery industry at large. Until now, accepting EBT SNAP online was a difficult technical undertaking that only the largest US retailers were able to build into their ecommerce offering,” Sarah Mastrorocco, VP & GM of Access to Food & Nutrition at Instacart, told Retail Brew. “We believe that grocery e-commerce should not be a luxury.”

  • Mastrorocco said Instacart takes the “burden off retailers” by working with them on the FNS approval process and integration with payment processors.

Paying off: One of those processors is Forage, which last week received USDA approval as an online SNAP EBT third-party payments provider, joining Fiserv and Worldpay as the only FNS-approved providers.

  • The company raised $22 million earlier this month to support hiring and product development, and in July, it debuted a Shopify app, the first time Shopify has accepted SNAP EBT online.

+1: As Mastrorocco noted and Forage co-founder Justin Intal told us earlier this year, figuring out all this payment tech isn’t easy for smaller grocers, which is why mostly larger chains accept these benefits online. The USDA is hoping to help, announcing in July it’s seeking applications for a $5 million competitive grant to fund an organization that would offer “extensive support” to these retailers.—EC

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