LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As coronavirus case numbers continue to rise, more people are turning to delivery options for food and groceries. It’s a way for people to avoid stores where they could come into contact with others, but some of the most vulnerable don’t have that option.
In this time of economic uncertainty, more Kentuckians will likely turn to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services confirmed from the first half of March to the second, there was a 143 percent increase in the number of people applying for SNAP benefits and they expect that trend to continue in April.
Right now, Kentuckians can use SNAP benefits at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers markets. Some retailers allow for SNAP benefits to be used when an online order is picked up. However, SNAP cannot be used for online orders for delivery. That is something the Cabinet is looking at changing.
Last year, the USDA launched a SNAP pilot program in New York which allows SNAP recipients to pay for and order their groceries online through select retailers. A handful of other states are now participating.
During one of Governor Andy Beshear’s recent updates, deputy secretary of the Cabinet of Health and Family Services, Eric Friedlander addressed the effort to get that in the Commonwealth.
“We have asked the federal government for a waiver from those requirements and we are waiting to hear back,” Friedlander said. “We have asked for a lot of flexibility there. We are going to make it easy and flexible to get those benefits and be able to spend them and use them in ways that make sense.”
A statement from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said the benefits of an online option is that it keeps people healthy at home, increases access for beneficiaries and is a faster process for getting healthy food to beneficiaries.
During this time, there will be people looking for assistance for the first time. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services wants to remind people that they can apply for SNAP benefits online or by calling 855-306-8959. The Department for Community Based Services is working to streamline the application process and provide extended hours of phone availability, including Saturdays from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm EST.