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Now that Old Man Winter has finally settled over Chicago, some residents may be torn between braving the ice, freezing wind, and brutally cold temperatures to make the trek to the grocery store. This is an even more significant challenge in many predominately Black communities on the south and west sides of the city, where residents live under the harsh, cruel system of food oppression.
These residents’ trek to the local grocery store is not as easy for more affluent white residents in other parts of the city. In addition to these challenges, supply chain and labor shortages due to the pandemic are fueling product shortages and empty shelves at grocery stores across the nation.
Local SNAP recipients can now take advantage of ordering groceries online. In June 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) SNAP EBT Online Implementation Plan. The plan gave Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients the ability to purchase groceries online using their personal identification numbers (PIN). In Illinois, the initial rollout included Amazon, Aldi, and Walmart.
However, in October 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the USDA approved six new retailers to participate in the program. The new retailers are Capri IGA, County Market, FairPlay Neighborhood Market, Schnucks, Supermercados El Guero, and Woodman’s Market. These six retailers operate 83 stores throughout the state.
Every resident in Illinois deserves equitable access to healthy food options, regardless of their income level or the neighborhood they call home. This latest round of expansion for online SNAP retailers is helping make that a reality for thousands of SNAP customers across the state. By launching online purchasing over a year ago during the pandemic, my administration continues to provide families with new and easier ways to shop for food in Illinois.
In Illinois, 1.8 million SNAP recipients may use their EBT card to complete purchases of eligible food items with their benefits. If an order contains non-SNAP eligible food items, customers must pay with another form of payment, such as a credit or debit card, gift card, or another acceptable form of payment.
IDHS Secretary Grace Hou praised the expansion efforts.
We are so pleased that our partners at the USDA approved six new retailers for SNAP online in Illinois,” IDHS Secretary Grace Hou said. “We are here to strengthen underserved communities throughout the state. Families in Illinois who have been hit hard by the pandemic will benefit from more grocers offering SNAP online.
Shopping for groceries online is just like shopping at any other grocery store. Some items may be priced higher or lower than what one would find at their local grocery store. Substituting some name-brand items for the discount brands will help stretch dollars further.
As a comparison, a half-gallon of organic whole milk is $3.79 on Amazon Fresh compared to $3.69 at Aldi and $3.38 at Walmart. Lean grass-fed, pasture-raised ground beef on Amazon Fresh is $8.99 per pound, $6.78 per pound at Walmart, and $5.49 per pound at Aldi.
Amazon also offers a discounted Prime membership to SNAP recipients. They will get the membership for a little over half off at $5.99 per month compared to the regular monthly membership of $12.99 per month.
A list of eligible food items that can be purchased can be found online. In addition, Illinois residents can use the SNAP eligibility calculator to determine if they qualify for benefits.
Written by Ebonee Stevenson
Edited by Jeanette Vietti
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Illinois Department of Human Services: Online SNAP Purchasing
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Featured and Top Image Courtesy by BANGLO Courtesy of Unsplash – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Mike Mozart’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License