As the number of cases of COVID-19 rose in the United States, so did use of online shopping sites. Retailers and grocery stores scrambled to meet the demand for online ordering and pickup programs. These programs allowed people in our community to make the choice in how they shopped according to their health needs. They were able to stay safe and stay home, minimizing contact with others to obtain their food.
Not everyone had that option. Community members who participate in SNAP, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, were mostly unable to use their benefit card online. Grocery stores, farmers markets, and other small food retailers had to create less than ideal work arounds in order to allow grocery pick-up.
While Michigan joined the list of states that can participate in SNAP Online Purchasing in July, only Walmart and Amazon are currently able to participate. Technological and financial barriers abound, keeping small retailers, farmers, and farmers markets from participating.
Everyone deserves access to local, high-quality food. Everyone deserves to make choices about where they source their food. Everyone deserves the opportunity to easily participate in online shopping when it would protect the health of their family.
For that reason, The U.P. Food Exchange is encouraging Michigan citizens to support the Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020 (SB 4202). Under this legislation, introduced by Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, online redemption of SNAP benefits would be made widely available by:
- Requiring national implementation instead of the current piecemeal approach
- Providing funds to develop and maintain a secure, easy to use online and app-based portal accessible to all retailers
- Creating a technical assistance center to aid states, small businesses, and farmers in setting up online SNAP redemption services
- Providing information to the public about local vendors who participate in SNAP online
One of our valued community partners, Taste the Local Difference, is hosting a sign-on letter to support this bill. You may access that letter here.
For a great impact, we urge you to use this letter as a template for a personalized letter or even to call our US Senators, whose contact information is below.
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
724 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510