Arkansans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits will now be able to do more of their grocery shopping online. Arkansas’s Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the new program last week.
DHS spokeswoman Marci Manley said this will allow SNAP recipients to avoid shopping indoors, where the risk of contracting the coronavirus is higher.
"In this initial launch, Walmart is going to be the retailer that is available for SNAP clients to use their EBT cards to buy eligible food items, like they would in-store. Amazon will be coming onto the program in the next few weeks, and also local retailers will begin being able to go through that process," Manley said.
Retailers can get approval through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to become SNAP online vendors. Initial federal approval for the SNAP online shopping program was part of the 2014 Farm Bill, under the Obama administration. New York became the first state to test the program in 2019. The program has expanded to 47 states in less than a year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 400,000 Arkansans whose incomes are below the federal poverty level receive SNAP benefits. Federal guidelines allow the purchase of staple grocery items with SNAP benefits. Cigarettes, alcohol and delivery fees are among the items excluded from the list of eligible purchases.