New SNAP Pilot Provides Grocery Delivery for Homebound Disabled, Elderly
By Guest Blogger Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary forFood, Nutrition and Consumer Services
Your neighborhood grocer may be conveniently located just a few short blocks away. But for many persons with disabilities and the elderly participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the store might as well be on the other side of the world.
It’s a difficult problem that USDA’s new homebound food delivery pilot aims to alleviate, not just for the more than 4 million nonelderly adults with disabilities participating in SNAP, but also for the nearly 5 million seniors, who often face similar challenges and who may face disabilities, as well.
USDA recently announced the food purchasing and delivery firms selected to take part in the one-year pilot, which will be conducted in locations nationwide, perhaps at a location near you. Firms selected include Denver Food Rescue (Denver, Colo.), Lutheran Social Services of Nevada (Las Vegas, N.V.), Many Infinities, Inc. (Alabaster, Ala.), Senior Services of Alexandria (Alexandria, Va.), and Store to Door (Roseville, Minn.).
The pilots break new ground for USDA. For the first time, governmental and non-profit food purchasing and delivery services will be allowed to accept SNAP benefits as payment. This is expected to increase the opportunities for home delivery to those unable to shop for food.
I think it’s important to note that during the trial period participating firms will only be permitted to accept SNAP benefits from households where the qualifying person with disabilities or elderly person is the head of household. This is intended to ensure that the pilot focuses on households that have the most limited access to foods.
Given that nearly one in five SNAP participants is either elderly or a person with disabilities, it’s clear that we must address the special challenges faced by these groups. Lessons we learn during the pilot will help USDA shape final rules now in development, which is an important step forward, as I see it. Home delivery of groceries will help ensure that those unable to shop for food themselves have access to the nutritious foods we all need to maintain a healthy diet.
About the Guest Blogger
Kevin W. Concannon was nominated by President Obama and Secretary Vilsack and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in July 2009 to serve as Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) in the United States Department of Agriculture. FNCS has principal responsibilities for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which feeds an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population, and has lead responsibilities for promoting healthful diet through the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.