For low income neighborhoods, grocery stores can be a place of risk for getting COVID-19. While many people shop for groceries online to avoid crowded stores, not everyone has this option. Many low-income SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients, including older people and people with disabilities, cannot shop online. This is because many do not live in states covered by the Agriculture Department’s online program or they live in areas outside of the delivery zones. Currently, most states let SNAP recipients use their benefits online, but Amazon or Walmart are the only stores that deliver in most of those states. The cost and quality of food from these retailers could be problematic. Also, the Agriculture Department prohibits SNAP recipients from using these benefits to cover cost for delivery or tips. Some other grocery store chains also accept payment through SNAP for curbside pickup orders, but that is a challenge for those without a car, people with disabilities, elderly and others who are homebound. Small grocers face financial and technological challenges in getting approved to accept SNAP benefits online. There are also fears about data privacy, theft related to online shopping, and promotion of unhealthy food for SNAP recipients.


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