Fresh Food

Online Grocer FarmboxRx to Accept SNAP/EBT Benefits

Move will facilitate access to healthful foods for those with limited mobility and those in underserved areas, FarmboxRx founder says
Farmbox Direct
Photograph courtesy of Farmbox Direct/FarmboxRx

Online grocer FarmboxRx, an offshoot of produce delivery service Farmbox Direct that focuses on serving Medicare and Medicaid participants, announced it will begin accepting SNAP/EBT benefits as part of a pilot program.

Calling itself the first national online grocer to accept SNAP dollars, FarmboxRx said the offering "will enable members to keep healthy foods stocked in their homes all month long, regardless of financial or physical access limitations." 

FarmboxRx, which launched in January 2020, works in partnership with more than 50 national healthcare plans to help provide "food as medicine" to at-risk populations—specifically, members whose limited mobility or location in an area underserved by traditional grocery stores hampers their access to fresh, affordable, healthful foods. Enrollees whose member benefits allow them to order through FarmboxRx can choose from among a variety of produce boxes that change monthly, including options focused on ethnic-inspired cuisine and those designed by nutritionists for individuals with specific health conditions. The goal is improved health outcomes realized by helping people avoid or better manage chronic conditions that are often related to diet, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. 

"FarmboxRx is committed to reshaping nutrition education and food access, changing the way the healthcare system approaches member wellness and disease prevention," the company stated in a news release. Adding FarmboxRx to the federal government's initiative to expand online redemption of SNAP benefits, said FarmboxRx CEO and founder Ashley Tyrner, will serve to "help break the chronic disease cycle."

In August, the Biden Administration announced an update to the SNAP program that increased benefits by an average of $36.24 per SNAP participant per month ($1.19 per day) starting Oct. 1. Some 42 million individuals, reflecting 22 million households, are SNAP participants. The nutrition assistance program helps feed 1 in 8 Americans, noted Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive and practice leader for client insights at IRI, in a SNAP-focused webinar on Tuesday. 

More than one-third (35%) of SNAP participants are Millennials, Lyons Wyatt added, and 37% live in rural areas. Online redemption of SNAP benefits, first piloted by the USDA in 2019, has seen robust growth during the pandemic, with online orders now accounting for 5% of SNAP dollars spent, according to IRI.

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