Walmart is planning to make a number of changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) transactions nationwide amid the coronavirus pandemic. After the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot program in April of last year, Walmart announced Monday that it is working with the USDA to expand SNAP online purchasing transactions for pickup customers in more states, which would limit employee-customer contact. The pilot is currently available in Alabama, Arizona, California, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington.
"Through the pilot, customers can complete EBT payments during online checkout instead of at the point of pickup," Tom Ward, Senior Vice President, Customer Product, Walmart, said in a Monday press release. "This eliminates all physical contact between associates and customers who want to use their SNAP benefits. Customers can also use EBT payment during online checkout when they choose the delivery option, where deliveries are available. Customers need us now more than ever, and we're here for them. Giving them more options to shop and pay is one way we can help."
The move comes after the company launched "a pay at pickup option" last June that allows families using SNAP benefits to pay when using their Grocery Pickup service. To use the service, customers simply order their groceries on Walmart Grocery and select the "EBT card" for the payment option at checkout. When the customer arrives to pickup their groceries, they are then asked to provide their EBT benefit card for payment.
"We knew it was a big step forward then, but today, we know it means even more," Ward said. "Customers are relying on us to help get food on their tables, and they are relying on us to keep them safe. Pickup is playing a bigger role than ever in helping us do just that. Customers have options for how they shop with us."
As officials continue to stress the importance of social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, Walmart has also announced a contact-free pickup hour for at-risk customers. Those customers include those over the age of 60, customers with disabilities, and anyone designated as high-risk for the virus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contact-free pickup hour takes place between 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. each day.
"Now more than ever, families are relying on our pickup service to help get quality, fresh groceries to their homes as safely as possible," Ward said when announcing that measure. "These are extraordinary times, and we are constantly looking for ways we can help deliver that same peace of mind to all our customers, particularly those who are most at-risk."