The addition of a new third-party payment provider to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program should be good news for grocers who want to accept digital payments for purchases – and good news for SNAP recipients who want more shopping choices.
On Monday, San Francisco-based Forage announced that it has been officially recognized by the USDA as an Approved Third-Party Payments Provider for SNAP Online Electronic Benefit Transfer Payments. Drilling became only the third EBT TPP listed on the USDA website, the company said in a press release. This news follows Forage’s announcement on August 8 that it has raised $22 million in funding including investments from Nyca Partners, PayPal Ventures and Instacart founder Apoorva Mehta.
SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, is a federal program that provides food assistance to low-income households. Beneficiaries now pay with EBT cards. Selecting Forage as an EBT payments provider will increase the number of retailers that offer online payments as an option, opening up the service to more SNAP recipients.
Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nonprofit service and advocacy organization, called the announcement “a huge win-win” for retailers and consumers.
“Giving more SNAP EBT recipients the ability to order groceries online, especially coupled with home deliveries, should be a much higher priority in the grocery industry,” Berg said in a statement. Press. “With this new approval, Forage will help more food retailers do well while doing good for their communities.”
Forage has spent months working for USDA certification, CEO Ofek Lavian said in a statement. He added that the platform’s current focus is to “ensure the success of our merchant partners as they bring EBT acceptance online in the coming weeks.”
Gong’s Market, a California-based family grocer, was the first merchant to go live on the Forage platform. Gong’s Market leveraged the Forage app for Shopify after Forage worked closely with Shopify Plus partner Grocerist on the project, Supermarket News reported.
The Forage platform is designed to make it easier for grocers to accept EBT payments for online purchases from SNAP customers. This gives grocers access to a $200 billion market and allows the 42 million Americans on food stamps to spend them online.
As previously reported by GOBankingRates, SNAP online shopping is already available at big box retailers such as Target and Walmart as well as national and regional grocery chains like Wegmans, Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, Safeway, Aldi and ShopRite. Dozens of smaller grocers also offer SNAP purchases online.
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But many food retailers still face technical challenges or limited resources to deploy or update e-commerce sites that allow them to provide online services that meet SNAP requirements. To address this issue, the USDA recently announced a new grant program that will provide technical support to help small, independent stores offer online shopping to SNAP participants.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Major Food Stamp Change Means More Grocery Options For SNAP Users Everywhere