Borough President Diaz Calls for SNAP/EBT Enhancements

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. recently made the push to streamline the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits online using Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT) cards. SNAP provides low-income earners with federally-subsidized funds (via EBT cards) which may be used to purchase relatively expensive items including fresh fruits and vegetables.

The proposed changes to the program would allow recipients to conduct purchases online, however, critics cite potential premiums for healthier food options from online retailers such as Amazon as a concern.

“As we work to change habits and promote healthier food options, we must also do everything we can to create the opportunity of affordable choices,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Allowing consumers to use their SNAP/EBT card as one might use their own credit or debit card to purchase groceries will lead to lower prices and greater options for those living in food deserts or facing food insecurity, and I urge the federal government to update their regulations to account for ongoing advances in technology.”

“If healthy food is either economically unaffordable or physically unavailable, that increases hunger and harms community nutrition,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide advocacy group. “That’s why the federal government must keep pace with current technology by enabling more low-income families who rely on SNAP and live in food deserts to be able to use their benefits to order healthy food online. I thank Borough President Diaz for his partnership on this important issue.”

Borough President Diaz initial proposed such changes in his “State of the Borough” address this past February.

“We will make healthy food options more easily available by urging the Department of Agriculture to change its rules to allow the use of EBT benefits to purchase from online vendors,” said Borough President Diaz during the speech. “Affordable nutrition should not be a victim of antiquated regulations.”

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