Special to Iredell Free News
RA:LEIGH — N.C. Food and Nutrition Services participants can now purchase groceries online using their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards at an additional authorized online EBT retailer, Publix Super Markets Inc.
This flexibility will allow participants to buy food while promoting social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and will help families with transportation and mobility barriers.
Publix becomes the seventh North Carolina EBT retailer — along with ALDI, Amazon, BJ’s, Carlie C’s, Food Lion, and Walmart — to be approved for online FNS purchases. In May 2020, North Carolina was one of the first 10 states to implement online purchasing for FNS and currently has the most authorized online retailers in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
FNS participants will be able to use their benefits to purchase eligible food items from online retailers but will not be able to use their benefits to pay for service or delivery charges. The participant will be required to pay for these charges with another form of payment, such as a debit or credit card.
Online shopping system can provide several benefits to the citizens of North Carolina, such as:
♦ Promoting social distancing and self-isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
♦ Limiting personal interactions for individuals at risk due to compromised health issues.
♦ Increasing access to healthy food for individuals with physical impairments, transportation issues or those living in food deserts.
Online purchasing which will remain permanently in place beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
The USDA must approve retailers who wish to participate in the FNS online purchasing program.
More information about North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services can be found at www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services/food-nutrition-services-food-stamps, and North Carolina individuals and families can apply for FNS at epass.nc.gov.