- Publix is now accepting online Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) payments for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants chainwide through Instacart, the e-commerce provider announced on Thursday.
- Instacart is also powering EBT SNAP online payments for Save Mart’s banners in California and Nevada, including Save Mart, Lucky California, Lucky and FoodMaxx, along with Price Chopper/Market 32 stores in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
- The addition of the three retailers grows the list of grocers offering SNAP online through Instacart by more than 1,500 stores across 15 states. The expansion is arriving as SNAP online gains traction in the grocery industry.
Once the expansion is complete, shoppers in 38 states and Washington, D.C., will be able to buy groceries with their EBT cards from more than 4,000 stores through Instacart.
Since the federal government’s SNAP online pilot launched two years ago, Amazon and Walmart have dominated as the main, and oftentimes only, options in the eligible states, but Instacart is quickly catching up. While initially limited to a handful of retailers, the USDA opened up its SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot last spring, prompting an onslaught of grocers applying.
Currently, 47 states and Washington, D.C., allow retailers to offer SNAP online purchasing — granted that they go through the process set by USDA.
Instacart’s new SNAP online partners add to the growing diversity of grocers offering the online payment option. Now, 24 states have at least one local or regional retailer offering SNAP online in addition to Amazon, Walmart and/or Aldi, according to the USDA’s website. Grocers like Kroger, Hy-Vee and H-E-B also allow EBT payments through their click-and-collect services.
With its more than 60 grocery partners, Instacart is uniquely positioned among e-commerce firms to rapidly expand access to SNAP online purchasing. Small and medium-size grocers have often gravitated toward outside technology companies for setting up their online presence. When it comes to the SNAP online process, those firms have played an outsized role in helping to develop, integrate and test the new capabilities for SNAP online, along with navigating government requirements and streamlining the consumer experience.
E-commerce providers have told Grocery Dive that the first retailer integration with SNAP online is usually the most challenging. Instacart now has five grocery companies on its list.
Instacart has continually tied its expansion of SNAP online to food insecurity, which was worsened by the pandemic. Hunger advocates and researchers have said growing the number of stores offering EBT online payments can help address hunger. However, delivery fees and lack of access to brick-and-mortar stores are still barriers. In announcing the expansion to the three grocery companies, Instacart said it will waive delivery and pickup fees for the first three orders from each SNAP customer through June 16.
Earlier this week, the USDA announced its extending Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits to low-income families with children to the summer months. The move will cover around 30 million children by adding the value of meals kids aren't receiving at school, around $6.82, onto users' EBT cards.