SNAP to Pilot App in 5 states

SNAP to Pilot App in 5 states

Application payment

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In convenience stores in five states, customers may soon be able to pull out their smartphones and show an app to pay with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

In the test program, the new digital payment application will be an option for SNAPpreviously called food stampsfor consignees and convenience stores and other food retailers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service said.

The pilot program will begin in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oklahoma, the agency said. You did not specify a start date. If it goes well, it could help expand the universe of consumers shopping with apps at convenience stores and grocery stores.

“Digital wallets are changing the way we pay for everything, including food. We want to ensure that SNAP uses the latest technology to improve access to benefits, reduce fraud, and provide a better overall experience for the families we serve,” said Stacy Dean, USDA Assistant Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. 8th of March.

But it doesn’t happen overnight. “These are complex pilot projects involving a wide range of stakeholders, with carefully coordinated efforts. Because of this, we estimate that this technology will not be available to SNAP recipients for 1.5 to 2 years,” said a USDA spokesperson.

Online shopping

The development follows a separate, successful online shopping trial for SNAP participants that began in New York state in 2019. The pilot program allowed SNAP recipients to pay for groceries, but not transportation, using government benefits. As of March 2020, approximately 30,000 SNAP households purchased online.

This year, more than 4.3 million SNAP households shopped online in January, and about 9% of all SNAP redemptions were made online, a USDA spokeswoman said. However, 98% of online SNAP recipients also shop in-store, according to the USDA.

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Today, every state except Alaska has implemented online shopping, and 190 retail chains use SNAP online shopping, the spokesman said.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the online shopping experiment. In the first half of 2020, the New York rollout was followed by trials in Washington, Alabama, Iowa, Oregon and Nebraska. Amazon, Dash’s Market, Fresh Direct, Hy-Vee Inc., Safeway, and ShopRite were among the first retailers to express their interest. , Walmart Stores Inc. and Wright’s Markets Inc., according to the USDA.

Among the small shops, e.g. 7-Eleven Hawaii In 2022, he joined the list of online shopping participants and worked with Vroom Delivery. The two companies worked with the Food and Nutrition Service for more than a year to meet safety and workflow requirements before shipping to customers.

  • 7-Eleven Hawaii No. 105 next CSPs 2021 Top 202 ranking of American c-store chains according to the number of retail units operated by the company.

Tom Falzani, co-founder and chief product officer of Lula Convenience, said SNAP’s decision to offer electronic payment and online ordering reflects market demand. “SNAP realizes that there is a huge need for this. They are starting to work on this technology,” he said. Lula Convenience offers an integrated platform that enables convenience stores to more easily offer delivery and manage inventory as online and app ordering grows.

Contactless payment

The app pilot could be rolled out in a similar fashion to SNAP’s online shopping program, and over time would allow most eligible convenience stores to serve more pay-as-you-go consumers. Currently, SNAP recipients pay with an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, similar to a debit card.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey says testing contactless payments with SNAP recipients who want to pay through an app highlights the state’s interest in technological innovation. “Enabling households to use SNAP to purchase groceries through their mobile devices not only provides a more dignified and secure payment experience, but also gives low-income families access to the same shopping technologies as other shoppers,” Healy said.

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In addition to the enthusiasm of state leaders, retailers see the opportunity. “I’m excited that they’re looking into this. It’s certainly something that’s been talked about internally and the convenience stores that we work with have also brought it up. I’m interested in the industry,” Falzani said.

Currently, SNAP recipients must wait for their EBT cards to arrive in the mail, a USDA spokeswoman said. With the application, funds are expected to be delivered electronically as soon as they are available. The pilots will be used to assess whether electronic payments prevent fraudulent activities such as card skimming or card cloning, the agency said.

“These pilots are testing both Near Field Communicationswhen the customer “taps” a mobile device to pay contactlessand QR code payments to understand the pros and cons of each technology for EBT and help additional states decide which approach is best for them,” said a USDA spokesperson.

The Food and Nutrition Service agency will partner with state agencies, EBT processors, mobile wallet technology companies and retailers in the pilot application program.

To determine the retailers for the experiment, the USDA published a voluntary request on July 12, 2022, with an application deadline of November 4. It evaluated the proposals. privacy and data security, business model, implementation plan and system changes, portability and customer service, a USDA spokeswoman said. Participating retailers will bear the costs of system or equipment development for the pilot, the spokesperson said.

Funded by the USDA, the SNAP program is administered at the state level, where eligibility is determined and benefits are issued to eligible households. States operate the program, formerly known as “food stamps,” by determining eligibility and issuing benefits to eligible households.

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C-store criteria

Convenience stores that do not currently participate in the program may apply for a SNAP license from the Food and Nutrition Service. They must meet certain criteria, such as minimum stocking requirements or be located in an area where there is a high need due to limited access to food. Stockpile requirements include access to basic foodstuffs. Retailers must stock or sell a certain number of foods in the following categories:

  1. vegetables or fruits
  2. dairy products
  3. meat, poultry or fish
  4. bread or cereal

Restaurants are typically excluded from participation if 50% of gross retail sales come from ready-to-eat meals. However, in some states, people with disabilities, the elderly, and the homeless can use SNAP benefits to purchase prepared meals at restaurants.

Information on the criteria for retailers is available on the following page USDA website.

The government raised the monthly average SNAP advantage $36.24 per person in fiscal year 2022, which began on October 1, 2021. At the time, the program fed more than 42 million Americans, about one in eight Americans, each month, according to government figures.

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