WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today joined bipartisan colleagues in a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately work to ensure SNAP participants can receive home food delivery and curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the letter to USDA, the Senators wrote, “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented rise in unemployment and a subsequent increase in demand for food assistance. At the same time, social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders have made it challenging—and unsafe—for many individuals to travel to purchase food. This is especially true for seniors and immunocompromised individuals who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, as well as individuals with disabilities and families who lack reliable transportation. We believe that no individual or family should be disadvantaged simply because they rely on SNAP benefits to access the food they need.”
In addition to Cardin, the letter to USDA was signed by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Angus King (I-Maine), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
USDA’s SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot makes it possible for SNAP participants to purchase grocery deliveries, but its availability remains limited to the states and retailers who have opted in to the program. Maryland is one of 16 states approved to participate in a federal pilot program to allow recipients to select and purchase groceries online, but these options are not yet available to Marylanders. In addition to expanding the Online Purchasing Pilot, the Senators urged USDA to answer key questions and to maximize and expand the alternative mechanisms that exist to facilitate delivery for SNAP participants.
The full text of the letter may be found here.