Sen­a­tors an­nounce SNAP pi­lot pro­gram

Maryland Independent - - Business -

U.S. Sen­a­tors Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) have an­nounced that the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA) has cho­sen Mary­land as one of seven states to take part in a pi­lot pro­gram that will al­low Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram (SNAP) par­tic­i­pants to pur­chase their gro­ceries on­line, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

Three Mary­land re­tail­ers — Ama­zon, Safe­way and ShopRite — will par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram, putting them, and Mary­land, at the head of a new and more ef­fi­cient SNAP pro­gram. The two-year pi­lot is slated to be­gin this sum­mer.

“SNAP is our na­tion’s first line of de­fense against hunger for mil­lions of low-in­come fam­i­lies and their chil­dren,” Cardin said in the re­lease. “I’m proud that Mary­land will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in this pi­lot pro­gram, de­signed specif­i­cally to in­crease ac­cess to food and make the core SNAP pro­gram more ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient. Low-in­come fam­i­lies of­ten can­not af­ford the trans­porta­tion to get them to and from the gro­cery store. This on­line pur­chas­ing op­tion is a smart, cut­ting-edge so­lu­tion that will come as tremen­dous re­lief for thou­sands of strug­gling fam­i­lies liv­ing in food deserts.”

“The SNAP pro­gram is in­te­gral in help­ing fam­i­lies af­ford nu­tri­tious food ever y month, and I’m ex­cited to an­nounce this new part­ner­ship. Many SNAP re­cip­i­ents live in com­mu­ni­ties that the USDA de­fines as ‘food deserts,’ where they can­not ac­cess fresh veg­eta­bles and fruit. This pi­lot pro­gram will ex­pand ac­cess for Mary­lan­ders in ru­ral and ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties and help keep fam­i­lies healthy,” Van Hollen said in the re­lease.

The other states cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate are New York, New Jer­sey, Penn­syl­va­nia, Iowa, Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon. As with the broader pro­gram, SNAP par­tic­i­pants seek­ing to pur­chase gro­ceries on­line will only be able to use their ben­e­fits to buy el­i­gi­ble items — not to pay for ser vice or de­liver y charges. The USDA plans to ex­pand the pro­gram na­tion­wide once it is con­firmed the on­line pur­chas­ing sys­tem func­tions as planned.

Ever y month, SNAP ser ves more than 781,000 low-in­come Mar ylan­ders. Nearly half of all par­tic­i­pants are chil­dren.

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