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April 27, 2020

North Carolina approved to allow online EBT sales

Amazon, Walmart are approved vendors nationwide

North Carolina has been approved to launch a program allowing EBT cards to be used online. Photo by Hanny Hsian/Scopio

North Carolina’s request to be part of a pilot program allowing online purchases of groceries using EBT cards has been approved by the USDA. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program is part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and is meant to help allow families to use their EBT benefits more safely through online ordering. Currently, Amazon and Walmart are approved for online purchasing nationwide. North Carolina’s program should become functional in May.

Before the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, EBT users were required to swipe their cards in person to make purchases. The Families First is meant to help feed children who get a majority of their meals through discounted or free food at school. In North Carolina, the SNAP participation is over 1.2 million individuals, totaling almost 600,000 households.

In order to participate in the program, states must submit a plan to the Secretary of Agriculture for approval. The program can be operated when schools are closed for at least five days during the school year due to a public health emergency. Though the EBT cards can be used to purchase food, delivery fees are not covered.

The USDA has also released an interactive map showing where families can pick up meals for their children. Find that here. South End Market is also currently supporting those using SNAP benefits by offering double EBT dollars spent at the market. —Kristen Wile

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