DENVER (KDVR) — Recent surveys show 31% of U.S. households have been purchasing their groceries online during the pandemic. But that figure is far less for people who rely on SNAP benefits from the federal government to buy food.
Fewer than 5% of SNAP recipients have been able to purchase groceries online since 2019.
It’s due to a limited pilot program from the federal government, in which only a few retailers are currently able to accept SNAP payments online, according to Hunger Free Colorado.
“Right now in Colorado there are a couple retailers that participate, but they’re working to get more,” said Ashley Wheeland, Director of Public Policy for Hunger Free Colorado.
Wheeland said those retailers include Amazon and Walmart in the Denver metro area.
The limited option of retailers for SNAP recipients has been concerning.
“I have many family members who are in the high risk categories to have detrimental effects from having COVID, so it’s just been a really huge burden on my family to have to make those store trips so often,” said Sarah Castleberry, a Colorado EBT card holder.
Until more retailers are able to accept SNAP/EBT payments for online grocery purchases, SNAP recipients have no other option but to shop for food in person.
Meanwhile, the federal government has been asking Americans to purchase their groceries online more to help cut down on COVID transmission.
“It disproportionately impacts their health. Because they don’t have as many options they have to go shop in person, they have to go pick it up. It puts them at risk. And actually a lot of folks that participate in SNAP are most vulnerable,” said Wheeland.
According to Hunger Free Colorado, Safeway & Albertsons are expected to join the pilot program in Colorado in the near future.