NEW LEXINGTON — According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohioans who are eligible can now use food assistance funds to buy food online through Walmart and Amazon.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services made the announcement on Wednesday, June 3. The announcement details that Ohioans who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can now use their Ohio Direction cards to make purchases online at either Walmart and Amazon.
Department Director Kimberly Hall stated that it is prevalent that many Ohioans are still struggling as food purchasing power has become a struggle for some. Hall added the elderly population is a main concern as they have limited access to transportation services and means.
“We hope online purchasing gives individuals more options and makes it easier for them to both stay safe and eat nutritiously,” Hall stated in a department press release.
Prior to the announcement, Ohio SNAP users could order basic groceries online via Giant Eagle, Walmart and some selected Kroger stores. However, they had to pay inside or at curbside locations.
The department received federal approval and successfully tested online purchasing with food and supply giants, Walmart and Amazon. While SNAP recipients can order food through online avenues for several retailers, only Walmart and Amazon allow online purchasing with Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.
Individuals can choose to have their groceries delivered, however, federal rules and regulations still prohibit the utilization of SNAP benefits to pay for any delivery charges.
Community members may qualify for SNAP if their current household’s gross monthly income is at or under 130 percent of the federal poverty line. Ohioans can apply for SNAP benefits by visiting benefits.ohio.gov.
Benefits can be used to purchase most food products, vitamins and/or medicines as well as hot food made to be consumed instantly. This includes prepared meals from grocery stores and restaurants. Benefits cannot be used to purchase alcoholic beverages.
Along with the announcement of online purchasing, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is providing additional relief to SNAp recipients during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The state agency has begun to issue Pandemic EBT benefits to children who are normally receiving free or reduced price meals at school.
The department has also issued supplemental SNAP payments payments to households that qualify in March, April and May. The agency is also preparing to issue them again in June.
The Department has also waived administrative verifications which would normally be required at food banks, in order to create a seamless process and limit person to person contact.
Job and Family Services is also extending SNAP recertification periods for March, April, May and June by six months.
According to the statehouse communications in Columbus, First Lady Fran DeWine accompanied Mr. Red of the Cleveland Indians and Slider from the Cincinnati Reds in a video message aimed at Ohioans related to the Pandemic EBT Program.
The State of Ohio was approved for the federal Pandemic EBT Program on May 12. Children in the state missed out on free and reduced lunch and breakfast as schools across the state closed after public health orders.
Now, young students are now starting to receive some of the benefits associated with the program, according to the statehouse. Due to Ohio’s schools being closed for more than 50 days, the benefit amounts to approximately $300 per child.
The statehouse reported that most of the 507,000 Ohio children participating in the SNAP program had the Pandemic EBT benefit loaded onto their card recently. There will be a Pandemic EBT card sent through the mail to 343,000 Ohio children who do not currently receive SNAP benefits.
For those who may have questions, they can contact the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 866-244-0071.