Grocery delivery service Instacart announced today that it is expanding its partnership with supermarket chain ALDI to make online grocery shopping and delivery available to EBT SNAP participants across 23 more states and Washington D.C.
Starting today, those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can use their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to pay for groceries and get delivery from roughly 1,000 more ALDI stores from these new service areas:
Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Instacart kicked off this program with ALDI back at the end of October when it launched a pilot program at more than 60 stores in Georgia. Earlier this month, the program expanded to more than 570 stores in California, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas.
We explained how the program works back when the Instacart/ALDI SNAP program kicked off, writing:
SNAP participants will be able to shop from ALDI through Instacart’s website or mobile app. When creating a profile, they can enter their EBT card information and a payment method, which will cover the cost of SNAP-approved food items. Taxes, tips and fees cannot be paid for with the EBT, so a second form of payment will also be needed. Once all that is set up, SNAP participants can shop for items and schedule their grocery delivery.
While giving SNAP participants the ability to participate in digital grocery shopping is an important step towards bringing more equity to our food system, Instacart’s program isn’t without its shortcomings. We lamented at the time of the pilot launch how a second form of payment was required for taxes, fees and tips. There are legal reasons for this, but it seemed like forcing families in need pay for delivery fees and tips could be a barrier to adoption. Or, in the case of tips, would Instacart’s gig “Shoppers” avoid jobs that don’t tip as well?
Instacart addressed some of these issues with today’s expansion. Per the press announcement:
New with this expansion and to help subsidize costs for EBT SNAP beneficiaries, during a 90 day period starting December 16, 2020, Instacart will waive delivery fees on up to the first three EBT SNAP orders for each customer with a valid EBT card associated with their Instacart account. ALDI pickup via Instacart costs $1.99 for orders over $35.
I mean, I know Instacart is a business and not a charity, and this is better than nothing. But for a company that raised $2.4 billion in venture money, and it being the holidays and all, it seems like it could have been a little more generous. Especially with the hunger and food insecurity surging across the U.S. right now.