Tops grocery starts accepting SNAP EBT payments online

The food waste-reduction service worked with payments processor Forage to allow SNAP shoppers to place pickup orders for items nearing their expiration dates at participating Tops stores

The addition by Flashfood of SNAP EBT as an online payment option for Tops shoppers broadens access by customers of the Northeastern grocery chain to the discounting platform, which offers food nearing its best-by date at a steep discount.

Tops customers can use Flashfood’s service to shop online for items like meat, dairy products, produce and baked goods, pay with SNAP benefits and pick up their purchases in a designated area in Tops stores that participate in the program, according to the announcement.

Tops, which runs 149 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, began working with Flashfood in August 2020, when it began offering the service to shoppers at six stores. The grocer expanded the program to 44 more stores in 2021 and brought the service to 18 additional locations in March.

The USDA has been expanding the number of food retailers authorized to accept SNAP benefits for payment from e-commerce shoppers. In June, the agency announced that it had added Alaska to the online purchasing initiative, bringing the program to all 50 states.

A variety of retailers have partnered with Flashfood as a way to bring perishable goods to the attention of shoppers before they spoil and incentivize people to buy the items by offering them at a sharply reduced cost. In addition to Tops, grocers that have teamed up with the digital platform include Giant Eagle, The Giant Company, Meijer and Giant Food.

Forage, the third-party payment processor that provided the back-end technology to enable Tops shoppers to use SNAP benefits for online Flashfood orders, specializes in providing infrastructure to process government benefits. The startup says it empowers 42 million shoppers to use funds provided by government programs to buy groceries digitally.

During fiscal year 2022, the federal government provided $113.9 billion in benefits to SNAP recipients, according to USDA data. More than 21.6 million households participated in the program during the year, the agency reported.

By Sam Silverstein on June 29, 2023
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