Online SNAP and P-EBT redemptions totaled $9.7 billion in first two years of pandemic

A combined bar graph showing SNAP and P-EBT benefits redeemed online from 2020 to Q1 2022 and a line graph showing the number of participating online retailers over the same period.

The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Online Purchasing Pilot allows households in participating States to use their SNAP or Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits to buy groceries online from authorized, participating retailers. The pilot launched with several retailers in 2019 and early 2020 before the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In response to the pandemic, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) opened the pilot to additional States and retailers. The number of participating retailers (each of which may include delivery or pickup from many individual stores) expanded significantly in the first two years of the pandemic. By December 2020, FNS had authorized 13 retailers. This number grew to 116 in December 2021 and to 148 in March 2022, providing benefit recipients with more options for redeeming their benefits online. The value of benefits redeemed online also grew. In 2020, SNAP and P-EBT recipients redeemed $1.5 billion in benefits online. In 2021, this amount more than quadrupled to $6.2 billion. Online redemptions in the first quarter of 2022 totaled $1.9 billion, representing 5.7 percent of all redemptions occurring in-person or online. This chart is based on a chart appearing in ERS’s Amber Waves article “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Online Purchasing Expanded in First Two Years of Pandemic,” published September 2022.

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