WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSPA) – The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced Tuesday the approval of requests from South Carolina and Utah to provide online purchases of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households.

According to a USDA news release, the approval “will allow these states to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time.”

The USDA said this is to ensure those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic are fed. SC DHEC reported Thursday morning there are more than 20 thousand confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

The program has already been used in 37 other states, including Georgia and North Carolina.

South Carolina’s SNAP participation currently has more than 558,000 individuals, more than 259,000 households and totals $855 million annually in federal benefits.

According to the release, Utah’s SNAP participation is more than 160,000 individuals, more than 67,000 households and totals $235 million annually in federal benefits.

The SNAP online purchasing is currently available in several states across the U.S. and the authorized retailers working with all states are Amazon and Walmart.

Wal-Mart said this means customers will be able to order groceries online and use an EBT benefit card to pay at pickup.

However, according to the USDA, customers can only buy eligible food with snap benefits, but they may not use the card to pay for delivery fees and other associated charges.

To keep snap accounts safe from online hackers, all retailers have to use the same company with an encrypted PIN entry when customers make purchases online.

According to the Department of Social Services, July 31, 2020, is the anticipated date for this service going live in SC. The Department hopes that other retailers and independent
grocers within the state will be able to gain authorization from USDA to participate by the end
of the summer, which will support local businesses and help boost the state’s economy.

To learn more about the SNAP program, click here. To apply for benefits online, visit SCMAPP.sc.gov.

Low-income families can also find free meals for their children using the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. For a list of distribution sites near you, click here.