Payments processor Forage is now recognized by the USDA as an approved third-party payments (TPP) provider for online SNAP EBT, the company said Monday.
“Forage has been working towards USDA certification for months, and we’re thrilled to be one of only three companies to date that have met this high bar,” Forage CEO Ofek Lavian said in a statement. “Our focus now is on ensuring the success of our merchant partners as they go live with online EBT acceptance in the coming weeks.”
In 2016, the USDA launched its online purchasing pilot for SNAP EBT where it reached out looking for retail volunteers. After three years of planning, development and testing, the first pilot retailers went live with online EBT in April 2019, Forage said in a statement.
With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the USDA quickly expanded the pilot from the original eight retailers, allowing any SNAP-authorized retailer to apply.
In 2021, Forage began working with the USDA and is now the only online EBT TPP to offer project management, documentation support and technical assistance to its merchant and platform partners, the company said in a statement.
While more than 250,000 brick-and-mortar locations accept SNAP benefits via EBT in-store, only a fraction have been approved for online EBT, Forage said in a statement.
Gong’s Market, a family-owned grocer based in California, was the first merchant to go live on the Forage platform, the company said. Gong’s Market leveraged the Forage app for Shopify, and Forage worked closely with Shopify Plus partner Grocerist on the project.
“This news is a huge win-win for both retailers and consumers,” said national anti-hunger leader Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a non-profit direct service and advocacy organization, in a statement. “Giving more SNAP EBT recipients the ability to order groceries online, especially coupled with home deliveries, should be a much higher priority in the grocery industry. With this new approval, Forage will help more food retailers do well for themselves while doing good for their communities.”