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Hy-Vee said this week that participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can now use their EBT (electronic benefits transfer) to pay for online orders picked up at the store.

SNAP/EBT users can use the Aisles Online pickup shop at Hy-Vee’s website or mobile app and collect their order at the Hy-Vee store of their choice. They choose a pickup date and time and select SNAP/EBT as payment.

“By offering SNAP/EBT as a payment option for pickup, we can now serve more customers with our Hy-Vee Aisles Online pickup service,” said Tom Crocker, senior vice president of e-commerce for Hy-Vee, in a statement this week. “As we work to continually improve our e-commerce offerings, this is just one more way we can help our customers who want to shop from the comfort of their home versus venturing to the grocery store.”

While Walmart, Kroger and H-E-B offer similar payment programs, few are allowing delivery of orders placed online and paid via SNAP, the federal assistance program formerly known as food stamps.

“Hy-Vee Aisles Online delivery drivers do not have the ability to collect payment at an individual home/business, and currently payment for SNAP/EBT orders needs to be collected at time of order exchange,” said Hy-Vee spokeswoman Christina Gayman.

In Minnesota only Amazon and Walmart are currently offering delivery for SNAP users, but delivery fees, tips, or other associated charges with SNAP benefits must be paid for with a different form of payment.

Why is it important for SNAP users to be able to choose delivery or curbside pickup?

“Having access to online purchasing helps keep people safe during the pandemic by allowing them access to healthy food without having to leave their homes,” said a Minnesota Department of Human Services spokeswoman.

More Twin Cities area grocers are starting to accept SNAP for online orders. Coborn’s began accepting SNAP/EBT for curbside orders in June.

The option is available at 13 select Coborn’s and Cash Wise locations in the Dakotas and Minnesota, but none of their Twin Cities area stores are participating yet. “There has been a notable uptick in EBT payment for both online and in-store purchases,” said Dennis Host, vice president of marketing for Coborn’s.

Representatives at Lunds & Byerlys and Kowalski’s said they are hoping to add SNAP/EBT payments in the future months.

Target and Cub accept SNAP only for in-store purchases, not delivery or curbside.

SNAP usage has increased since the pandemic began. In June, there were 426,000 SNAP users in Minnesota, an increase of 11% compared to June 2019, according to the Minnesota DHS.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633