A regional Midwestern grocer is the latest retailer to pilot federal benefit payments for online grocery purchases.
All Hy-Vee Inc. store locations that offer the retailer’s Aisles Online grocery curbside pickup service now accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) as payment at time of pickup. Hy-Vee is participating in a pilot with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows consumers who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits — typically referred to as food stamps — to purchase groceries online.
Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger also accept SNAP payments for online groceries in some locations. Amazon and Walmart can accept SNAP for both delivery and pickup orders, while Kroger currently only accepts SNAP for curbside pickup.
SNAP/EBT beneficiaries can now digitally shop for groceries via the Hy-Vee e-commerce site or Aisles Online mobile app and collect their order curbside at one of the more than 250 Hy-Vee stores offering Aisles Online. Recipients can select their preferred store location, shop for their groceries, choose a pickup date and time, and pick SNAP/EBT as the payment method.
Once notified that their groceries are ready, customers go to the store, look for the pickup signs in the parking lot, and pull into the designated spot and call the number on the sign. An employee then brings out the order and loads it into the customer’s car.
When customers go to pick up their order, they must bring both their SNAP/EBT card and a credit/debit card to pay for those items that are not EBT-eligible. Cash or checks will not be accepted as payment for curbside pickup orders. Hy-Vee cannot currently accept SNAP/EBT payment for home delivery orders.
“By offering SNAP/EBT as a payment option for pickup, we can now serve more customers with our Hy-Vee Aisles Online pickup service,” said Tom Crocker, senior VP of e-commerce for Hy-Vee. “As we work to continually improve our e-commerce offerings, this is just one more way we can help our customers who want to shop from the comfort of their home versus venturing to the grocery store.”
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.
Based in West Des Moines, Iowa, Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned grocery retailer operating more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.