Instacart announced today that it has partnered with grocery retailer ALDI to allow those on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to use their Electronic Benefits Transfer card to pay for and get groceries delivered.
The pilot program is launching first in Georgia where, according to Instacart’s announcement, 12.5 percent of the population is impacted by food insecurity, disproportionately affecting communities of color. The program will begin with 60 ALDI stores in Georgia before a planned expansion to more than 570 stores across Illinois, California, Florida, Pennsylvania in the coming months.
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.
Online grocery shopping took off during the pandemic, as people were concerned about venturing into public places like grocery stores. Those fears have subsided somewhat, but grocery e-commerce is still projected to hit $250 billion in sales by 2025.
Instacart’s partnership with ALDI is the latest effort to bring more equity to the online grocery world. Low income communities are often food desserts that lack access to fresh food. The ability to shop online and have groceries delivered is one way to help those impacted by food insecurity eat more healthily. For the past couple of years, the startup All_EBT has been using Facebook Messenger and virtual Visa cards to allow SNAP participants to shop online. And both Amazon and Walmart have expanded their EBT online grocery shopping to more states.
The only downside to Instacart’s program is that it still requires SNAP participants to pay for taxes, fees and tips. Those three items alone can add up and that seems like it might be a barrier to get more people to use the program. While the EBT card couldn’t be used to cover these costs, it’s a little disappointing that Instacart, which has raised $2.4 billion, isn’t doing more to supplement them for the end user. It seems like Instart’s gig workers who do the actual packing and delivery, might skip jobs that don’t offer a healthy tip, especially since the pandemic has yet to subside in this country.