EBT Payment for Online Grocery Orders: a Mixed-Methods Study to Understand Its Uptake among SNAP Recipients and the Barriers to and Motivators for Its Use

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Objective:To examine Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients' use of the first online supermarket accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) payment.Methods:In this mixed-methods study, the authors collected EBT purchase data from an online grocer and attempted a randomized controlled trial in the South Bronx, New York City, followed by focus groups with SNAP beneficiaries aged ≥18 years. Participants were randomized to shop at their usual grocery store or an online supermarket for 3 months. Focus groups explored barriers and motivators to online EBT redemption.Results:Few participants made online purchases, even when incentivized in the randomized controlled trial. Qualitative findings highlighted a lack of perceived control over the online food selection process as a key barrier to purchasing food online. Motivators included fast, free shipping and discounts.Conclusions and Implications:Electronic Benefit Transfer for online grocery purchases has the potential to increase food access among SNAP beneficiaries, but challenges exist to this new food buying option. Understanding online food shopping barriers and motivators is critical to the success of policies targeting the online expansion of SNAP benefits.

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