Merkley, Wyden, Colleagues Push to Expand Delivery for SNAP Recipients During Pandemic
Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with a bipartisan group of 26 senators, are calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately work to ensure that Americans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits—also known as food stamps—can receive home food delivery and curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the letter to USDA, the senators wrote, “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented rise in unemployment and a subsequent increase in demand for food assistance. At the same time, social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders have made it challenging—and unsafe—for many individuals to travel to purchase food. This is especially true for seniors and immunocompromised individuals who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, as well as individuals with disabilities and families who lack reliable transportation. We believe that no individual or family should be disadvantaged simply because they rely on SNAP benefits to access the food they need.”
USDA’s SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot makes it possible for SNAP participants to purchase grocery deliveries, but its availability remains limited to the states and retailers who have opted in to the program. In addition to expanding the Online Purchasing Pilot, the senators urged USDA to answer key questions and to maximize the alternative mechanisms that exist to facilitate delivery for SNAP participants.
As the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for the USDA, which runs the SNAP program, Senator Merkley continues to advocate for funding and strengthening the program. In March, Senator Merkley led a group of colleagues in calling on Amazon and Walmart to waive delivery fees and minimum order requirements for SNAP participants, to help vulnerable families limit their exposure to the virus by having their groceries delivered. In response to the letter, Walmart has delayed implementing the $30 minimum order requirement for the duration of the pandemic in states with an Online Purchasing Pilot. SNAP customers in states with Online Purchasing Pilots may shop on Amazon Fresh as soon as online SNAP transactions are enabled, without waiting for an invitation.