California Food Stamp Program Now Allows Grocery Delivery

NBC 7 Responds explains the changes coming to the CalFresh program

NBCUniversal, Inc.

More people are having their groceries delivered but people who rely on food assistance programs did not have that luxury, until now.

People who used assistance programs like SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) still had to go into stores, even if they were in a population at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Now, the program is changing to help protect customers.

"[These programs have] lots of individuals who are elderly or have lots of health conditions," said Assmaa Elayyat of the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). "We really don't want them out and about."

Access to grocery shopping online has been tested in several other states, but this is the first time it will be available in California. It comes at an important time, as more families are turning to programs like SNAP due to the coronavirus pandemic. San Diego County said it has recently seen a 92 percent increase in applications for food stamps.

Nearly 150,000 families in San Diego county rely on CalFresh, California's version of SNAP. By the end of April, they will be able to shop for groceries online and have them delivered right to their doorstep. So far, only Amazon and Walmart have been approved to accept federally-distributed EBT cards online, but more retailers should be added to the program soon.

It's important to note that EBT funds cannot be used for delivery fees. But San Diego's HHSA says free delivery is still an option on most online grocery platforms.

"Both retailers will waive the delivery fee if the purchase is at least $35," said Elayyat.

There is also some extra money coming for many SNAP users. Right now the average CalFresh benefit is $318, but extra funds will be available for the months of April and May.

You can find more information on CalFresh programs on the San Diego County website here.

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