The Calfresh program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, has announced that a home delivery option will be available for those under the program starting April 28th.
Both California and Arizona had an emergency request approved by the federal government earlier this month to approve the pilot program in lieu of state lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. California now joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing such deliveries.
“People under SNAP, WIC, CalFresh, and TANF, they’ve been seriously at risk during this whole pandemic,” said San Diego grocery store manager Mark Irving. “People with more money can afford to have Instacart come or get food delivered by us or Amazon, or have a pick-up with Walmart. But you can’t do that with benefits. Even some in unemployment because of the debit cards they give not always working for online orders.”
“People with these benefits have to go out and shop. And they face greater exposure risks, just like my employees here, and they also face limited food choices, especially those using WIC, as baby stuff tends to run out faster than usual now.”
“This is good, even if they can’t do online orders here. They’re safer if they choose to do this. At least from where I can see. The only thing is that some of the money might go to delivery fees, and that may set them back some.”
While the pilot program will expand to allow for online orders, those under CalFresh who choose this option face several limitations. Under the pilot program only two retailers, Walmart and Amazon, have been approved thus far. There is also a minimum of $35 for online delivery orders as well as a delivery fee, which eats up more of the SNAP funds.
There have also been concerns over what people may or may not buy due to current SNAP limits, although current limits on what may or may not be bought is still expected to be enforced. This includes products such as tobacco, alcohol, paper products, soap, and household supplies.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been a major supporter of home deliveries for SNAP participants and hopes that it will help expand social distancing to keep not only SNAP recipients safer, but also grocery store workers facing fewer customers during lockdowns.
“Grocery pickup is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the growing concerns around social distancing,” said the USDA in a statement.
While the program is expected to continue throughout the coronavirus lockdown, it is unknown if any expansion to other grocery chains or services such as Instacart would be added during the pilot program length.