The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday announced Nebraska will pilot a program for online purchase and delivery of groceries through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The pilot program in Nebraska will begin on April 1.

Portions of the news release follow:

As mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) chose Nebraska as one of its pilot states to test the online purchasing program.

Currently, 154,844 Nebraskan’s rely on the SNAP program to provide food for their families. For many, getting access to a grocery store can be difficult. Families who utilize the SNAP program can find themselves in ‘food deserts’ where access to groceries, especially fresh produce, is limited. This causes a burden on families who may not have consistent transportation options to go and get groceries much farther away from home than those who do not live in food deserts.

To date, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the USDA has authorized eight retailers to participate in the program including Amazon, Dash’s Market, FreshDirect, Hy-Vee, Safeway, ShopRite, Walmart, and Wright’s Markets. As of right now Amazon and Walmart are the only qualified retailers that will be able to handle SNAP purchases online in Nebraska. Walmart will start with two stores for a week, one in Norfolk and one in South Sioux City, before launching statewide. Amazon will be able to deliver statewide at the start of the program.

CFS is hoping to launch the program April 1st and expand as resources allow. Individuals who live in areas where the program is operational should see an option to pay with EBT at electronic check out.

This program comes at a critical time as Nebraska fights to lower the infection rate of COVID-19. According to CFS Director Stephanie Beasley, “A natural response to getting groceries, while also practicing social distancing and self-quarantining, is to order online and get groceries delivered. Before, Nebraskans who relied on EBT to get their groceries had no option but to go to a brick and mortar store. Now they can help flatten the curve and order groceries delivered from home.”

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