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As we continue to adjust to stay-at-home orders, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is offering clients a new shopping option. Alabama is one of nine states piloting an online shopping program. Although the initial pilot began in 2019, Alabama joined the program in March 2020. Consequently, this new SNAP benefit is timely and helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Are SNAP Benefits?

Formerly called food stamps, SNAP benefits are issued through the United States Department of Agriculture. Families in need use SNAP benefits to buy healthy food and to become self-sufficient. Until recently, Alabama clients purchased food in-person from grocery stores, convenience stores, and selected farmers markets. This new option allows clients to purchase items online from eligible retailers.

Eligible Online Retailers

SNAP recipients in Alabama currently have three online retail options to shop for essential food items. Amazon, Walmart, and Wright’s Market, Inc. accept SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. SNAP recipients can use EBT cards to safely purchase groceries while under COVID-19 mandates to stay at home and social distance.

Allowable and Unallowable Purchases

SNAP clients are allowed to purchase the following:

  • Canned, fresh, or frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Breads and cereals.
  • Snack items and nonalcoholic beverages.
  • Seeds and plants that produce food for household consumption.

SNAP clients are not allowed to purchase the following:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, and tobacco products.
  • Vitamins, medicines, and supplements. (If an item has a supplemental facts label, it is considered a supplement and is ineligible for SNAP purchase.)
  • Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water, and animals slaughtered before pickup from the store).
  • Prepared foods (hot or cold) for immediate consumption. This includes coffee, soup, pizza, fresh salads, sandwiches, and meat and cheese platters.
  • Nonfood items: paper products, pet foods, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, and cosmetics.

How to Apply for SNAP Benefits

Follow these instructions to apply for SNAP benefits in person, online, or by mail.

  • To apply online: Visit https://mydhr.alabama.gov/ to complete online applications. Create a user profile and then follow instructions.
  • To apply by mail: Call (1-833) 822-2202 or visit https://dhr.alabama.gov/county-office-contact/ to obtain the address or number of the nearest Alabama Department of Human Resources office. Pick up an application to apply for benefits in person or by mail.
  • For disability assistance: Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities can call (1-833) 822-2202 using the Alabama Relay Service at 711 or (1-800) 548-2546 (TTY). In addition, contact the local food assistance office for further assistance.

More Information

Visit the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) website for more information on SNAP benefits.

Visit the Urban SNAP-Ed page on the Alabama Extension website to learn how to eat healthy with SNAP benefits. More information is available on the Urban SNAP-Ed Alabama Cooperative Extension System Facebook page.

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