Technical assistance center to be financed with $5 million grant from USDA
Washington, D.C. – The National Grocers Association Foundation (NGAF) has been awarded a $5 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to establish a technical assistance center that will guide grocers through the process of implementing online Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) grocery purchasing.
“Independent community grocers have been actively pursuing expansion of their online purchasing platforms, including online SNAP and mobile payment capabilities, to meet the ever-growing consumer demand for online shopping, but obstacles and a lack of resources have hindered the ability of many smaller retailers to pursue innovative solutions, resulting in reduced access for customers to needed essential food products and services,” said Chelsea Matzen, NGAF director.
“This grant will pave the way for more smaller grocery operators to offer SNAP online purchasing, making them more competitive in their respective market areas and better able to provide service to food-insecure Americans.”
These funds will facilitate creation of the SNAP EBT Modernization Technical Assistance Center (SEMTAC), which will guide grocers through the process of establishing an online purchasing program, including required technology, as well as support for the Mobile Payments Pilot. SEMTAC will teach retailers the federal requirements for SNAP EBT modernization, including the online purchasing and mobile payment programs.
Increasing access to online grocery purchasing is particularly important to rural communities and areas served by stores with limited selections of healthy foods.
“Small stores are the heartbeat of towns across America. They’re often individually owned and operated, create local employment opportunities, and provide essential resources for their community, but they also may not have the same resources that bigger stores have at their fingertips,” Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, said in a press release announcing the grant.
Through the technical assistance center, NGAF will leverage and build upon its previous experience offering technical assistance with SNAP and its history of supporting independent grocers with a team of expert partners and consultants.
Earlier initiatives include a SNAP Online Resource Guide for brick-and-mortar retailers, a toolkit that discusses purchasing requirements, tips for set-up and best practices. This navigation guide, which was developed with FNS guidance, will be built upon and reworked to create an expanded resource for all retailers interested in participating in SNAP Online.
More information about NGAF’s assistance initiatives can be found here.
About NGA Foundation
The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association. The Foundation provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers. For more information, visit www.ngafoundation.org.