Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Center for Community Solutions has been carefully monitoring the issue of food security for Ohioans, including nutrition policy on the federal and state level and U.S. Census Pulse data to assess the extent of the problem. Community Solutions has also been tracking grocery shopping innovation and alternatives, which like other online food ordering services have been made popular because of the pandemic, though they haven’t always been accessible to everyone.
Now, over a year and a half into the pandemic, nearly every state is participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Online Purchasing Pilot. This program allows participating retailers to accept SNAP payments online, which gives SNAP recipients numerous options when it comes to their grocery experience, including grocery delivery, curb-side pickup or in-store shopping. Although this program has allowed many SNAP recipients to ensure their nutrition needs are met from the safety of their homes, questions remain on exactly how the program works.
Can I use my Ohio Direction card (EBT, SNAP, Food Stamps etc.) to make purchases online?
Yes. Ohio is one of several states to expedite implementation of SNAP online purchasing in response to COVID-19. Allowing for SNAP online purchases supports Ohioans in meeting their nutrition needs while adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for prevention measures against COVID-19, including staying 6 feet apart from others you don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
Yes. Ohio is one of several states to expedite implementation of SNAP online purchasing in response to COVID-19.
Can I use my Pandemic-EBT card to make purchases online?
Yes, the P-EBT card acts the same as a traditional Ohio Direction card.
Which stores can I shop online with my Ohio Direction card?
While the list of retailers is constantly being updated as more retailers join the program, there are currently six retailers participating in Ohio: ALDI and BJs Wholesale Club through Instacart which allows for both pickup and delivery at ALDI and delivery only at BJs Wholesale Club, Giant Eagle and Kroger for pickup only, Amazon for delivery only and Walmart.
Why only these stores?
Although retailers already must meet certain requirements from USDA to accept SNAP cards in-store, they must go through a separate process to accept payment online. Retailers looking to join the program can contact USDA here.
Can I use my Ohio Direction card to pay any fees?
At this time, your SNAP benefits cannot be used to cover any fees. You must pay fees with another form of payment, like a credit card or a gift card.
At this time, your SNAP benefits cannot be used to cover any fees.
Some retailers offer a membership, which helps to cut down on delivery fees if you are a frequent user of the online option. Walmart+ is $98 per year and offers free delivery for orders over $35. You do not need to be a member to order, but you will pay delivery fees regardless of your order total. Instacart also offers an “express membership” for $99 per year which gives members free delivery for orders over $35 and reduced service fees. You do not need to be a member to order, but you will pay delivery fees regardless of your order total.
Can I purchase both food and non-food items in one online order?
Yes. Using SNAP benefits online works the same way as using SNAP in-store. Any non-SNAP eligible items such as household products, pet food and alcohol will be separated from SNAP-eligible items automatically. You will be asked to provide a separate form of payment for these items, such as a credit card or gift card, before your order is processed.
Useful tips for using SNAP benefits to shop online
- SNAP benefits may only be used to purchase food items.
- SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for delivery fees.
- If you already have an account with any of the retailers above, including Amazon, be sure to update the form of payment to link your Ohio Direction card.
- You do not need an Amazon Prime membership to use your Ohio Direction card on Amazon.
- Other retailers will be joining the program in the future. For the latest information, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/online-purchasing-pilot.
- Need help with your SNAP benefits? Visit benefits.ohio.gov or call 1-844-640-6446.