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Capitol Correspondence - 04.28.20

ANCOR Signs onto Coalition Letter Asking for Online Purchases to Be Allowed within Food Assistance

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As part of its coalition work with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), ANCOR signed onto a letter to the Department of Agriculture (DOA) asking it to extend a food assistance pilot program that allows online food purchases so that it is available nation-wide during the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, the letter refers to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) Online Purchasing Pilot Program. As written in the letter:

“The growing outbreak of COVID-19 across the United States creates specific issues for people with disabilities. The disability community includes millions of individuals with underlying or pre-existing conditions who are, and will be, particularly at risk as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country. These individuals will face high risk of complications and death if exposed to the outbreak and they need to isolate themselves for protection. This makes access to online ordering of needed supplies and groceries absolutely critical and, for many, a matter of life and death. We believe expanding the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot program will greatly alleviate the issue of food insecurity among SNAP beneficiaries with disabilities during the pandemic.

SNAP provides millions of people with disabilities and their families with crucial food assistance. Compared to people without disabilities, people with disabilities and their families are significantly more likely to experience hunger and food insecurity. With 95% of Americans under some form of a stay at home order, this rapidly evolving environment presents a particular set of challenges for beneficiaries with disabilities. Recent press reports indicate some beneficiaries with disabilities are fearful of contracting the disease in a grocery store or infecting their families upon their return home. Some people with disabilities cannot drive or do not have access to an accessible vehicle and rely on public transit and paratransit to obtain groceries. Public transit service across the country is experiencing a severe reduction in operation because of the pandemic thus limiting people’s ability to shop in person. Additionally, even if some beneficiaries with disabilities are able to drive to a grocery store that offers curbside pickup in the first place, this requires stops at gas stations and other exposures that increase their risk of infection more than if the groceries were delivered to their home.

For these reasons, we strongly urge USDA to proactively work with retailers who currently have the ability to accept online payments and offer grocery delivery to help them become eligible for the pilot program.”