Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) are asking the federal government to allow Floridians eligible for food stamps to shop for groceries online.
Currently, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients are barred from shopping online. Those who qualify for food benefits must appear in person and present their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.
According to the federal government, using those cards online can create problems — such as fraud — that has thus far restricted widespread access to online purchasing.
Still, many are concerned that forcing low-income individuals — who statistically also suffer more frequently from serious underlying health conditions — to shop in store could expose those to unnecessary risk regarding the novel coronavirus.
That prompted DeSantis Friday to direct DCF Secretary Chad Poppell to request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the SNAP program.
“After executing Executive Order 20-91 to limit outside activities to essential services, this commonsense policy approach is a no brainer,” DeSantis said in a Friday release.
“Allowing Florida families to purchase groceries online instead of venturing into a public store is a sound practice during this public health emergency and yet another step that will help Florida flatten the curve.”
A few select states do allow some online purchases. But those are mostly restricted to large retailers which have installed system to overcome any technical hurdles.
Poppell added a statement of his own Friday, voicing support for DeSantis’ request.
“I commend Governor DeSantis for his tireless efforts to ensure Florida’s most vulnerable population has the information, resources, and services needed to respond to and ultimately endure this public health emergency,” Poppell said.
As officials have installed widespread social distancing guidelines, Florida’s economy has taken a hit. Nearly 500,000 Floridians have applied for unemployment benefits in the previous three weeks.
With more and more individuals out of work, that will lead to an influx of SNAP recipients. It will now be up to the federal government as to whether those individuals will be forced to potentially risk their health by shopping in person, or whether those waivers will be granted.