HOUSTON - Families receiving SNAP food benefits can now order groceries online for delivery using EBT benefits for more stores. They can even get free delivery for a few months.
Instacart is expanding to include many more grocery stores where people can shop online using EBT SNAP benefits and have the groceries delivered.
Instacart is now accepting EBT SNAP payments for online grocery shopping for delivery with stores, like ALDI, BJ's Wholesale, Brookshire's, and Homeland. 40 stores in 39 states.
The Houston Food Bank says it could be a big help in fighting hunger.
"Because someone lives five or more miles from a grocery store that has nutritious fruits and vegetables, or has lean meats and protein, definitely bringing that food into their homes is better," said registered dietician Nicole Lander with the Houston Food Bank.
Customers can shop on the Instacart website or mobile app, check that delivery is available in their zip code, then upload their EBT card plus another form of payment for non-covered items, tax, or delivery fees.
January 1, 2022, through March 31, 2022, Instagram is offering EBT customers free delivery.
Several other retailers also accept EBT payments for online grocery orders, including Amazon, Walmart, H-E-B, and Kroger.
Not only can grocery delivery help prevent shoppers' exposure to COVID, but a Yale University study found it can help alleviate food deserts, which are low-income neighborhoods with no grocery stores.
"Unfortunately, people we know, who are food insecure, have chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease. Those things are hard to manage when you're juggling how to pay for food, how to pay for medication, and where to get your groceries," said Lander.
Things to note: prices for groceries online are sometimes a little higher than in-store prices.
And most stores charge a delivery fee. EBT cannot be used to pay delivery fees. But some low-income advocates would like to see that changed.
"Houston Food Bank would love to see those fees either waived by retailers, or those benefits be used. Our hope is that legislators will take that up," said Lander.
And delivery fees can be avoided. Many stores offer free curbside pick up if you spend a minimum, usually $25 or $30.
And some stores offer free delivery with a paid membership. A membership can be worth it if it saves you more money over a year than the cost of the fee. Some stores also provide coupon codes for free delivery.