Online Grocery Shopping Is Not Available to Food Stamp Recipients in Florida

Virus Outbreak Food Safety

Image via AP/Ben Margot

Following stay-at-home orders, online grocery shopping in Florida is becoming a necessity. The federal food assistance program does not allow it.

By Giselle Balido

April 6, 2020

The COVID-19 epidemic is making the federal food assistance hard to access for those who needed it the most.

Following stay-at-home and social distancing orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people across Florida are opting to shop for groceries and other household needs online. However, this is proving a challenge for the most vulnerable segment of the community, low- income people and families.

Recipients of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), a system for issuing welfare payments electronically by means of a card that they can use to pay for purchases, have found that stores in Florida do not allow them to shop and pay for purchases online. 

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As much as they want to protect themselves and their loved ones from the growing spread of coronavirus -which as of April 6 had reached 12,350 confirmed cases in the state- they find themselves in a difficult position: having to go out to purchase food and much-needed items, or to go without them. 

In order to avoid fraud, regulations from The U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) prevents  ETB cards from being used to make purchases online. However, Walmart is part of a pilot program, SNAP Online Purchasing, that allows ETB recipients to buy online, but they must pick-up their purchases at the store. 

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