WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to improve access to groceries for homebound seniors and people with disabilities who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
USDA is proposing for the first time to permit grocery purchasing and delivery services run by government and non-profit organizations to accept SNAP benefits as payment, allowing for home delivery to those unable to shop for food.
Nationally, only 42 percent of eligible elderly individuals participate in SNAP, compared to 83 percent for all people who are eligible.
“Home delivery of groceries is an important step forward in serving the needs of these vulnerable populations. Allowing homebound seniors and people with disabilities to use their SNAP benefits through government and non-profit home delivery services will help ensure they have access to healthy foods,” Secretary Vilsack said, noting that one in five SNAP participants is either elderly or disabled.
“This issue has a particular importance for seniors living in rural areas, as America’s rural population is older than the nation overall and rural seniors experience higher poverty than seniors nationwide.”
Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, the proposed rule outlines eligibility and participation criteria for purchasing and delivery services serving the homebound elderly and disabled, and seeks comment from stakeholders.
In addition, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will soon begin seeking up to 20 food purchasing and delivery services to participate in a one year pilot program. Lessons learned during the pilot will used to help shape the final rule.