Why Can’t More Families Use SNAP Benefits for Online Orders?

By Colin Lecher

(EXCERPT)

There are also technology obstacles for state governments. Parker Gilkesson, a policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, said some states, relying on outdated and fragile software for their benefits programs, may be reluctant to implement a new system, fearing that resulting website downtime could lead to interruption of SNAP assistance. Similar shutdowns, she said, have happened in the past when states have tried to update their software. “They were afraid that the same thing would happen based on this pilot program,” she said. 

SNAP benefits also can’t be spent on delivery fees charged by a retailer on top of the cost of groceries, even though those fees can make up a substantial portion of the order’s total cost. “That’s definitely a wrinkle,” Bhatti said. He points out that lawmakers are already aware of the issue: Legislation recently introduced in both houses of Congress would set aside $500 million to subsidize retailers’ fees for groceries delivered to households on SNAP. The bills have been  referred to committee.

 

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