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Maryland approved for SNAP online grocery purchases

Low-income families in Maryland will be able to purchase groceries online for delivery or pickup with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits beginning next week, the latest measure the state has taken during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online SNAP grocery purchases will be piloted in some areas of the state next Wednesday, and it will be available statewide next Thursday, according to the state Department of Human Services. Customers will be able to use their EBT card like a credit or debit card at checkout, entering the card details and PIN to finalize a purchase.

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Walmart, Amazon and ShopRite, which are among the participating retailers, were provided with test EBT cards by the state “for end-to-end testing” to ensure the program works, officials said.

“We are grateful to ShopRite, Amazon, and Walmart, who made the commitment to waive delivery and servicing fees and enable SNAP households in Maryland to purchase eligible grocery items online,” said Netsanet Kibret, executive director of the department’s Family Investment Administration. “We continue to pursue opportunities with other potential retailers that have the capacity to provide online purchasing and meet the USDA’s retailer requirements, so as to expand available resources.”

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Maryland requested approval for the move from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service on April 17, and announced the federal approval Wednesday.

Expanding SNAP benefits to cover online grocery purchases is expected to help Marylanders comply with public health recommendations and lower the risk of exposure across the state, officials said. It will particularly help high-risk individuals such as those with disabilities, those with chronic health conditions and those required to self-quarantine who aren’t able to make purchases in person.

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