U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Alex Padilla (D-C.A.) and U.S. Representative Ted Lieu (D-C.A.) introduced the Timely Review of SNAP Online Retailer Applications Act, which would speed up the application review process for online-only grocery retailers. Since its implementation in 2019, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Online Purchasing Pilot has allowed millions of Americans to access healthy affordable groceries, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the program has seen significant growth and additions of numerous retail chains to its offerings, online-only retailers without brick-and-mortar storefronts face significant wait times before they are approved. There is currently a backlog of dozens of online only retailer applications that have been waiting over nine months for a USDA determination. This bill would require USDA to make a determination on all online retailer applications within six months. By reducing barriers to entry for smaller online-only retailers, this bill will enable SNAP beneficiaries to shop a wider variety of retailers and access the benefits of online grocery shopping.
“Addressing the backlog in online-only retailer applications is critical to expanding access to essential, nutritious groceries for every household,” said Senator Booker. “By setting a six-month processing deadline and requiring a timely USDA review process, we will ensure that eligible online-only retailers are able to quickly start providing fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods to families who may not otherwise have access to these nutritious items.”
“Healthy, affordable groceries should be readily accessible for our millions of SNAP recipients no matter how they shop, whether online or in person. But prolonged delays for SNAP online retailer applications have limited the number of options on the market,” said Senator Padilla. “This legislation would help expand a crucial, flexible pathway to provide SNAP benefits for the 5 million Californians who receive CalFresh every month.”
“SNAP programs play a vital role in alleviating hunger across the country,” said Congressman Lieu. “However, to more fully meet the needs of each household, SNAP beneficiaries deserve access to user-friendly online retail platforms, quick delivery service, and a variety of retailers where they can purchase nutritious food for their family. Online-only grocery retailers are uniquely positioned to operate in underserved communities, including food deserts. Our bill would make it easier for online retailers to begin service in a timely manner and ensure that all American families have reliable access to healthy food. I am glad to join Senator Booker and Senator Padilla in introducing this important bill to support the health and wellbeing of our neighbors.”