SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services on Wednesday, announced the state’s plan to enable 1.8 million SNAP recipients to purchase food from participating grocery retailers online has been approved by the federal government.
The new purchasing option will begin on June 2. All Link customers will be alerted when they can use their card to make food orders online.
“To keep more families safe and healthy, my administration is expanding the ways in which SNAP recipients can acquire groceries to include online purchasing,” Pritzker said. “The best part is that in addition to helping families shop a little easier and safer during this pandemic, this is a permanent new feature of the SNAP landscape in Illinois that will support our residents for many years to come.”
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D), who, along with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) and the governor’s office, helped advance the program.
“This step will help millions of people in our state safely put food on the table,” Durbin said. “I will continue to look for ways to expand access to SNAP benefits and food programs as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic so people do not go hungry.”
Duckworth said she relates to the struggle some experience to feed themselves during difficult times.
“As someone whose family depended on food stamps and reduced-price meals after my father lost his job when I was in high school, I know firsthand just how important access to affordable food can be,” she said. “I also know that no individual or family should be disadvantaged or have to choose between putting themselves and their families at risk or going hungry simply because they rely on SNAP benefits. The reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging—and even unsafe—for Illinoisans to visit stores or travel to purchase groceries, and the work governor Pritzker and IDHS are doing to provide our state’s families with safe alternatives is an important lifeline. I’m glad to have a partner like J.B. in Illinois, and I’ll keep working with Sen. Durbin in Washington to secure needed support at the federal level.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved IDHS’ SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Online implementation plan, which gives SNAP customers the ability to enter their Personal Identification Number (PIN) to order groceries online. All SNAP recipients with Link cards in Illinois will be able to participate.
Walmart and Amazon have agreed to accept online orders in Illinois once the program site launches. Additional grocery retailers are welcome to join EBT Online. Any retailers interested in the program can find more information and apply at fns.usda.gov/snap/online-purchasing-pilot.
“We are so pleased the USDA approved our request so that we can soon begin offering online purchasing to all SNAP recipients in Illinois,” said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou. “This is one more way we can make the lives of our customers a little easier during this difficult time.”
Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D) said: “This is a great step towards making sure all Illinoisans have access to food delivery, regardless of their income. I encourage other retailers to partner with IDHS to provide at grocery delivery services to SNAP recipients across the state.”
Central Illinois Foodbank Executive Director Pam Molitoris said she is grateful for the state and federal partnership.
“The individuals and families we serve are often facing tremendous obstacles in their lives,”she said.
Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, said SNAP has been the most effective tool to prevent hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is only fair that a household receiving SNAP benefits should have the same opportunity as any other household to buy groceries online,” she said. “This is critical for our most vulnerable neighbors, including those who are unable to leave their homes.”