- Kroger announced Wednesday that it has started accepting SNAP benefits for online purchases across all of its stores.
- SNAP participants can now use their EBT cards to pay for delivery and pickup orders placed online.
- The announcement builds on the wave of grocers that have adopted the payment option for online orders in recent years and also comes as retailers look to better support customers who receive government assistance
Kroger said that accepting SNAP payments online makes it easier and more convenient for customers to buy fresh and healthy foods, noting that its free OptUp nutrition rating system can help improve purchasing decisions.
Because SNAP participants can only use their benefits to buy SNAP-eligible products, Kroger customers placing online orders will need another payment such as a credit or debit card to cover any delivery or pickup fees, tips or convenience fees, per the grocer’s website. They will also need a secondary payment method to purchase any non-SNAP-eligible items.
“We believe everyone should have access to fresh, affordable and nutritious food,” Kroger CEO and Chair Rodney McMullen said in a statement. “I am so proud of our passionate teams who worked closely with the USDA to remove barriers to healthy foods so that more of America can access the food they need to thrive.”
In April, Kroger Delivery, the e-commerce service offered by the partnership between the grocer and Ocado, announced it has started accepting EBT payment for all pickup or delivery online orders through the service.
During the early months of the pandemic in 2020, Kroger said it would accept EBT cards at all of its pickup locations for in-person payments of online pickup orders — an option that was then only available at the retailer’s Ohio stores. Kroger made that announcement several months after Walmart enabled SNAP payments across its grocery pickup footprint.
In the years since, the ability to offer online payments with EBT cards has accelerated in the grocery industry as the USDA expanded its pilot program to allow for that payment method digitally. SNAP online ordering became available nationwide this year when the USDA announced in June the addition of Alaska to its SNAP online purchasing program.
In recent months, a similar effort has been underway by federal and state agencies with select retailers to allow WIC participants to pay online with their benefits cards.
Kroger noted in the Wednesday announcement that it participated in a USDA pilot testing EBT payment acceptance during the pandemic.
Albertsons, which Kroger is in the process of trying to buy for $24.6 billion, accepts SNAP and EBT Cash as online payment methods for pickup and delivery orders at all of its banners.
SNAP households account for nearly a quarter of consumer goods spending in the U.S., consumer insights and data firm Numerator said in a report earlier this year. In June, the USDA said that nearly 3.7 million SNAP households shopped online in April — a “substantial increase” from the roughly 35,000 households that did in March 2020, underscoring the importance of e-commerce options for those participants and the additional sales opportunities for grocers.
Despite growth in accessibility, SNAP participants have faced headwinds this year.
Following the termination earlier this year of the temporary pandemic boost in SNAP benefits, several grocers and e-commerce providers have worked to boost food accessibility as well as SNAP enrollment. Earlier this week, Albertsons announced its September fundraising campaign, which resulted in nearly $6 million of customer donations at the register, will fund grants for community organizations to help qualified people sign up for SNAP and WIC.
For July, the number of households (21.9 million) and people (41.3 million) participating in SNAP were up 1.4% and 0.4%, respectively, compared to the same time a year ago, while SNAP benefits were down 22.8% for the same time period, totaling nearly $7.2 billion, per USDA data released this month.