Walmart Opens Online Grocery Ordering to SNAP Recipients in These Areas

A woman checks out at a Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market
A woman checks out at a Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market Thursday, June 4, 2015. Danny Johnston/AP Photo

They say time is money, and that rings especially true for anyone who has struggled to make ends meet.

Walmart has announced it will allow recipients of government benefits save some time when they shop for household essentials. People who receive food stamps will be able to use their EBT cards to pay for groceries online and pick them up.

The program will start in the Houston and Boise areas this fall, “and we’ll be bringing it to more and more markets through the holiday season and beyond,” a blog post from ecommerce vice president Mike Turner explained.

The store’s online grocery pickup option, which launched in fall 2015, allows customers to select grocery items and pay for them online with a credit or debit card, then pick up their order at the store and time of their choice. Walmart promised prices equal to the ones customer would find in stores.

Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will pay for their orders when they pick them up. “An associate will bring a payment terminal to the car,” Walmart spokesperson Molly Blakeman explained, and the customer will drive off with their groceries and a physical receipt.

Walmart Isn’t Just Being Nice. It’s Part of a Pilot Program

About 40,000 people receive SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps, each month. This form of government assistance isn’t tied to employment, but more than 75% of recipients worked within the year they received benefits, according to the USDA.

A grocery-pickup program like this may be valuable to those juggling a job (or two or three), and trying to get chores and errands done on top of that work schedule.

In January 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture launched an online purchasing pilot to allow grocery stores to accept SNAP benefits online. In February, Walmart joined the initial roster of stores accepting SNAP benefits online, which included Amazon, FreshDirect, Safeway, ShopRite and others.

Amazon sweetened its deal in June when it announced it would offer discounted Prime subscriptions to EBT cardholders, although government benefits cannot be used to pay for memberships, service fees, or delivery charges.

Blakeman noted that Walmart is excited to be a part of the USDA pilot program, which is expected to launch in 2018. “We wanted to make sure to open up the convenience of online grocery as soon as we could,” she said, saying Walmart plans to roll it out to a larger number of stores “relatively quickly.”

One in five customers at Walmart pays with food stamps.

Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.