Floridians using SNAP benefits will be allowed to buy groceries online

(UPDATE) The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Saturday the approval of Florida's request to provide online grocery purchases through the SNAP program.

Nearly three million Floridians participate in SNAP, according to a news release from the office of Nikki Fried, Florida commissioner of agriculture and consumer services.

“I thank the USDA and Secretary Perdue for granting the state’s request to bring safer grocery options to Florida’s families in need,” Fried said in the release. “Through this innovative pilot program, SNAP households can purchase food online and pay using their EBT card at pickup, among other options. This reduces shopping risk from COVID-19, helps fulfill consumer demand, and keeps Florida-grown products moving to families.”

The news release also said the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is also collaborating with the Department of Children and Families to implement the Pandemic EBT program, which will allow families whose children and eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch to receive SNAP benefits.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) want the federal government to allow food stamp recipients to purchase groceries online amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

The current rules state that Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients must appear in person while buying food and present their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.

Many are concerned that low-income individuals are exposing themselves and their families to the virus by being forced to only shop in-store.

DCF has requested a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the SNAP program.

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“After executing Executive Order 20-91 to limit outside activities to essential services, this commonsense policy approach is a no brainer,” DeSantis said in a Friday release.

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“Allowing Florida families to purchase groceries online instead of venturing into a public store is a sound practice during this public health emergency and yet another step that will help Florida flatten the curve.”