Federal benefit payments continue to evolve as a mainstream method to purchase online groceries.
Discount grocer Aldi and on-demand delivery platform Instacart will accept federal Electronic Benefit Transfer and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (EBT SNAP) as payment for online orders filled via Instacart’s same-day delivery and pickup services. The multi-phased launch will begin in Georgia in the coming weeks across more than 60 Aldi stores, with anticipated plans to expand to more than 570 stores across Illinois, California, Florida, and Pennsylvania in the coming months.
EBT SNAP benefits (popularly known as food stamps) are growing in acceptance as a form of payment for online purchases by an increasing number of grocers. Midwestern grocery chain Hy-Vee launched a pilot in August, and retailers including Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger also accept SNAP payments for online groceries in some locations. Amazon and Wamart can accept SNAP for both delivery and pickup orders, while Kroger currently only accepts SNAP for curbside pickup.
As part of the new Aldi/Instacart program, EBT SNAP participants in Georgia will be able to shop from Aldi via the Instacart online site and mobile app by entering their EBT food card information as a form of payment in their profile. Customers will need a secondary form of payment for non-food items such as taxes, tips and fees per SNAP guidelines.
After filling their online shopping carts, customers can choose grocery delivery or pickup for their order and determine how much of their SNAP benefits they would like to allocate to the order. Aldi delivery and pickup via Instacart will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Once an order is placed, an Instacart personal shopper will pick and pack the order within the customer's designated time frame – whether they choose to receive their order as quickly as possible or schedule their delivery or pickup days in advance. Aldi began offering delivery service via Instacart back in 2018, and Instacart currently delivers nationwide from more than 2,000 Aldi stores.
"Enabling customers to use their SNAP/EBT benefits for their grocery delivery and curbside pickup orders is an important extension of our in-store payment policy," said Brent Laubaugh, co-president of Aldi U.S. "While the option is only available in select markets at the moment, we're eager to roll out this update broadly as quickly as possible."
“As the nation continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19, we recognize Instacart has an opportunity to increase access to fresh, nutritious food and pantry staples by unlocking EBT SNAP payments for online grocery delivery and pickup services in communities across the country," said Nilam Ganenthiran, president of Instacart. "We're proud to partner with Aldi on this important initiative and are committed to being a long-term solution for EBT SNAP households and connecting everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, to the groceries and essential goods they need."
The 2014 Farm Bill authorized USDA to conduct and evaluate a pilot for online purchasing prior to national implementation. The pilot phase is intended to ensure online transactions are processed safely and securely. USDA anticipates all eligible and interested retailers who can meet the requirements to process online SNAP transactions will eventually be able to take part, though the timeline is dependent on the progress of the pilot and any regulations which may need to be issued.