Arkansas has been approved for a federal program that allows people to use federal food assistance for online purchases.
Arkansas and Hawaii received approval July 23 to join 39 states and the District of Columbia participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Online Purchasing Pilot. The pilot program launched last year in New York with the intent to improve access to healthy food for people who live in food deserts — areas with limited access to affordable, healthy food — or are unable to physically shop for food.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service has worked closely with all states interested in joining the program. SNAP recipients in participating states will be able to use their benefits to purchase eligible food items online. The target start date for Arkansas will be announced later.
Arkansas’s SNAP participation includes more than 354,000 individuals and more than 159,000 households, and the state receives $460 million annually in federal SNAP benefits, according to a USDA news release.
Amazon and Walmart will likely be among the eligible retailers that accept SNAP payments online in Arkansas. Retailers must provide easy-to-use online shopping that is secure and private and must support online SNAP transactions similar to those that would occur in a retail store.