PITTSBURGH, PA (April 29, 2020) Mayor William Peduto has issued a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of efforts to expand affordable food purchasing options — including delivery and online ordering — for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mayor’s letter follows calls by U.S. Senator Bob Casey and others to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides eligible low-income residents with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) debit card to purchase food.
Currently, SNAP beneficiaries cannot do any purchases online. While other food consumers can use online ordering and delivery to protect themselves and others from spreading the coronavirus, low-income residents and families are forced to make their purchases in person, making them especially vulnerable to the disease.
The Food Policy Council wants the USDA to allow SNAP recipients to purchase food for delivery and to allow other safe food purchasing options, such as allowing users to use their EBT cards for Instacart or online farmers market services.
Sen. Casey has been calling on the USDA to expand SNAP delivery options since the pandemic led to stay-at-home guidelines across Pennsylvania and the nation last month.
“As we face this global crisis together, it is critical that we safeguard food access for SNAP participants, especially senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, residents who do not have access to transportation, and others who are unable to leave their homes due to the spread of COVID-19. Enhanced partnerships between the USDA, state government, and retailers will help to eliminate barriers to reliable food access and provide our most vulnerable neighbors with peace of mind during an already stressful time in their lives,” Mayor Peduto stated.
A copy of the letter to Secretary Perdue is available here.