In addition to changing life as we know it, this COVID-19 pandemic has also reinforced the enormous inequalities in our society. Working from home and setting up Zoom playdates is trivial compared with the struggles low income families on food stamps face just getting groceries.
All_ebt is a startup that wants to make getting groceries for those on food stamps a little bit easier. We’ve written about All_ebt before. They use a combination of Facebook Messenger and virtual Visa cards to enable those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to shop for groceries anywhere online and have them delivered.
In this time of quarantine, getting groceries delivered takes on new importance. The ability to buy groceries online and have them delivered means those on food stamps don’t have to put themselves or their families at risk of exposure to COVID-19 by going to the store, and it can also mean that parents who need to work can get groceries dropped off at a convenient time.
I spoke with Eli Caldéron Morin, Co-Founder of All_ebt today by phone and he said that there’s been a surge of interest in his company’s service. “In the last three days, we’ve signed up 800 people each day,” Morin said “We were signing up about 10 people a day before.”
When people do sign up , they get a virtual Visa card in moments that they can use to buy SNAP-approved food items (i.e. no tobacco or alcohol, etc.). A physical card arrives in the mail a few days later. With this virtual Visa card, they can order groceries through Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, or even other third-party delivery services like DoorDash that are delivering SNAP-approved food from independent and convenience stores.
As Morin explained it to me, there are two parts to any electronic benefits transfer: the main part to pay for food, and a discretionary part, which is like cash. Delivery fees are paid for out of that discretionary cash.
Right now, All_ebt makes its money by charging a $4.99 monthly fee to the user, but eventually he wants to shift that burden to the merchant. To help it scale to the point where it can effect that shift, All_ebt recently launched an equity crowdfunding campaign to raise $107,000.
All_ebt has previously raised money from angels, has won hackathons put on Y Combinator and Facebook, and was a winner on a famous investor, Tim Draper’s, TV show “Meet the Drapers.”
For those who are on food stamps, or who know someone who is, if they are interested in using their SNAP benefits for grocery delivery, they can sign up with All_ebt at allebt.org.