As reported by Chris Serres in yesterday’s edition of the Star Tribune (May 5, 2020), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved Minnesota’s request to allow the state’s SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients to use their benefits to buy groceries online and have them delivered to their homes. This is a significant step in helping nearly 400,000 more Minnesota residents reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Minnesota will join seven other states that already provide this option and 10 more which are scheduled to offer online purchasing in the near future. Once these 18 states come online, more than one-half of America’s food support recipients will be able to use a computer, tablet, smartphone, or other device to order groceries for home delivery. Nikki Farago of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) notes that the USDA ruling “is vital to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic while helping all Minnesotans put healthy food on their tables.”
The Minnesota DHS anticipates that these services may be available to the state’s SNAP beneficiaries as soon as next month. At present, according to Serres, Amazon and Walmart “are the only USDA-approved retailers participating in the program nationally in the program,” although Minnesota officials are urging additional stores to join this effort.
If you think you or anyone you know might be eligible for SNAP, including those recently unemployed, more information and instructions on how to apply are available at this site. And, if you need to apply for unemployment insurance, please visit the state’s applicant self-service system or call at 651-296-3644 in the Twin Cities (877-898-9090 for greater Minnesota and 866-814-1252 for residents requiring the use of a TTY device). The automated phone option also provides services in Spanish, Hmong, and Somail.
For a comprehensive list of resources and services related to COVID-19, including information on Economic Impact Payments, visit the Community Action website.