Does Grubhub Accept EBT? An Expert‘s Guide for Savvy Shoppers - Marketing Scoop (2024)

As a retail and consumer expert, I know that many shoppers have questions about using EBT benefits to order food online, especially from popular delivery apps like Grubhub. With the rise of food insecurity across the country and more people than ever relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), it‘s crucial to understand how and where you can use your EBT card to access affordable meals.

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In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll break down everything you need to know about Grubhub‘s EBT policy, the rules and restrictions of SNAP benefits, alternative food delivery options for EBT users, and much more. Whether you‘re a long-time EBT cardholder or are newly eligible for assistance, you‘ll find valuable information and insights to help you maximize your benefits and feed your family on a tight budget.

What is EBT and How Does it Work?

First, let‘s review the basics of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system and the SNAP program. SNAP, previously known as food stamps, is a federal nutrition assistance program that helps low-income households afford fresh, healthy food. As of 2022, over 41 million Americans participated in SNAP, with an average monthly benefit of $230 per household, according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

To qualify for SNAP benefits, your household must meet certain income and resource requirements, which vary by state. Once approved, you‘ll receive an EBT card that functions like a debit card specifically for purchasing food. Each month, your benefits will be loaded onto the card, and you can use it to buy groceries at authorized retailers.

However, there are strict rules about what you can and cannot buy with SNAP EBT. Approved items include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Breads and cereals
  • Snack foods
  • Seeds and plants for growing food

Meanwhile, you CANNOT use EBT to purchase:

  • Hot prepared foods or meals
  • Alcohol and tobacco products
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Non-food household items like cleaning supplies or paper products
  • Pet food

These restrictions are in place to ensure that SNAP benefits are used as intended: to help families access the basic ingredients needed to prepare nutritious meals at home.

Why Doesn‘t Grubhub Accept EBT?

Now, onto the central question: does Grubhub take EBT as a payment option? The short answer is no, Grubhub does not currently accept EBT on its platform. This is because the vast majority of Grubhub orders are for hot, freshly-prepared restaurant meals, which are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits under federal guidelines.

To illustrate this point, let‘s look at some of the most popular food items ordered on Grubhub in 2021, according to the company‘s Year in Food report:

  1. Chicken sandwich
  2. Cheeseburger
  3. Cheese pizza
  4. Pad thai
  5. California roll

As you can see, these are all cooked-to-order restaurant dishes meant to be eaten immediately, not grocery or pantry staples. While Grubhub does offer some convenience store and grocery delivery options in certain markets, the focus of the platform is undeniably on prepared meals.

In addition to the hot foods restriction, there are other logistical and economic challenges that make it difficult for restaurant delivery apps like Grubhub to participate in the SNAP program. For one, SNAP benefits can only cover the cost of eligible food items, not any delivery fees, service charges, tips, or taxes. This means that EBT customers would still need a separate payment method on file to cover those additional costs, complicating the checkout process.

Furthermore, becoming an authorized SNAP retailer requires applying through the USDA and adhering to specific regulations and reporting requirements. For a tech-based company like Grubhub that primarily partners with third-party restaurants rather than selling its own products, the administrative burden and costs of accepting EBT may outweigh the potential benefits.

It‘s worth noting that there have been some initiatives to expand SNAP EBT access to prepared foods in recent years, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) allows certain SNAP recipients, such as the elderly, disabled, and homeless, to use their benefits to purchase prepared meals at participating restaurants in a handful of states, including California and Arizona. However, this program is still very limited in scope and availability.

There have also been petitions and advocacy efforts calling on major food delivery apps to begin accepting EBT. In 2020, a Change.org petition asking Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats to take SNAP payments garnered over 75,000 signatures. However, none of these companies have announced plans to integrate EBT as of 2023.

What Payment Methods Does Grubhub Accept?

So, if you can‘t use EBT on Grubhub, what payment options are available? Currently, Grubhub accepts the following methods:

  • Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover)
  • Debit cards
  • Grubhub gift cards
  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Venmo

Unfortunately, Grubhub does not accept cash payments for delivery orders. Some customers have tried to work around this by offering to pay the driver directly in cash, but this is against Grubhub‘s official policy. All orders must be paid for within the app at checkout.

If you don‘t have a credit or debit card, one potential solution is to purchase a prepaid Grubhub gift card at a local retailer like Walmart or Walgreens. Many of these stores allow you to buy gift cards with cash, which you can then add to your Grubhub account to place orders. Just keep in mind that you‘ll still need an alternative payment method for any fees or tips beyond the cost of the food itself.

Other Food Delivery Options for EBT Users

While Grubhub and other restaurant-based delivery apps are off-limits for EBT, there are still ways to get meals and groceries delivered using your SNAP benefits. In the past few years, a growing number of retailers have started accepting EBT for online orders, giving SNAP recipients more flexibility and convenience.

Some of the most popular EBT-friendly delivery services include:

Amazon

Amazon allows SNAP EBT as a payment method for eligible food items sold and shipped by Amazon.com and Amazon Fresh in all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Montana. However, EBT cannot be used for Amazon Pantry, Amazon Whole Foods, or third-party seller items. You‘ll see an "EBT Eligible" label on products that qualify.

Walmart

At Walmart.com, you can shop for EBT-approved groceries like fresh produce, meat, dairy, cereal, canned goods, and snacks for delivery or curbside pickup at participating locations. During checkout, select EBT as your payment method and enter your card information. You‘ll need a secondary payment method for any non-eligible items, fees, or taxes.

Instacart

Instacart is an on-demand grocery delivery service that partners with hundreds of local stores in all 50 states, including major chains like Aldi, Food Lion, Publix, and Safeway. Most Instacart retailers now accept EBT for SNAP-eligible products, which are tagged with an "EBT" label as you shop. At checkout, look for the "Apply SNAP Benefits" option and enter your EBT card details. Note that you‘ll still need a credit or debit card to cover delivery fees, tips, and any non-eligible items.

Albertsons

Albertsons, the parent company of Safeway, Vons, and other supermarket chains, offers EBT payment for online orders in select markets. SNAP customers can shop for eligible products on the store‘s website or app and select EBT SNAP at checkout. A secondary form of payment is required for non-eligible items, fees, and tips.

Kroger

Kroger, one of the largest grocery chains in the US, accepts EBT for delivery and pickup orders at participating locations. Customers can add their EBT card as a payment method on Kroger‘s website or app and browse SNAP-approved items. Note that EBT cannot be used for delivery fees, which must be paid with another card.

Other Regional Retailers

Depending on your location, you may also have access to smaller regional or local grocery chains that offer online EBT payments. For example, H-E-B in Texas, Hy-Vee in the Midwest, and ShopRite in the Northeast all accept SNAP benefits for delivery orders. Check with your local stores or visit the USDA SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot page for a full list of participating retailers in your state.

Tips for Maximizing Your EBT Benefits Online

If you‘re planning to use your EBT card for grocery delivery or pickup, here are some expert tips to help you stretch your SNAP dollars and make the most of your benefits:

  1. Compare prices across multiple retailers. One of the advantages of online shopping is that it‘s easy to browse different stores and find the best deals on EBT-eligible items. Take some time to compare the prices and selection at various retailers before filling your cart.

  2. Look for digital coupons and discounts. Many grocery delivery services offer exclusive savings for online orders, including digital coupons you can "clip" and apply at checkout. Some may also have special promotions or discounts for SNAP customers. Always check the "Deals" or "Promotions" section of the website or app.

  3. Plan your meals around SNAP-approved ingredients. To maximize your EBT benefits, focus on purchasing whole, unprocessed foods that can be used in a variety of recipes. For example, a bag of rice, a dozen eggs, and some frozen vegetables can be transformed into multiple affordable meals. The USDA SNAP-Ed website has a great collection of budget-friendly, EBT-approved recipes to try.

  4. Buy in bulk when possible. If you have the storage space, consider buying larger quantities of non-perishable staples like grains, beans, and canned goods. These items are often cheaper per unit when purchased in bulk, and they have a long shelf life. Just make sure to properly store and rotate your inventory to avoid food waste.

  5. Take advantage of free delivery promos. Some grocery delivery services occasionally offer free or reduced-price delivery for new customers or during special promotions. Keep an eye out for these deals and time your orders accordingly to save on fees. Just remember that you‘ll still need to tip your driver separately.

  6. See if you qualify for discounted memberships. Certain delivery services, like Instacart and Amazon, offer reduced-price memberships for SNAP recipients. For example, Instacart provides a free 14-day trial and 50% off an annual membership for EBT users, while Amazon Prime is available for $6.99 per month for qualifying customers (regularly $14.99). These memberships can help you save on delivery fees and access exclusive deals.

The Challenges of Food Access and Affordability

While the expansion of online EBT acceptance has undoubtedly made it easier for many SNAP recipients to access food, it‘s important to acknowledge that significant barriers to food security and nutrition still exist, especially in underserved communities.

According to Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization, over 38 million people in the US faced food insecurity in 2022, with households of color disproportionately impacted. Many low-income neighborhoods lack access to full-service grocery stores and instead rely on corner stores or fast-food restaurants with limited fresh produce and healthy options. This phenomenon is known as living in a "food desert."

Moreover, even with SNAP benefits and nonprofit food assistance programs, many low-income households still struggle to afford enough nutritious food to meet their needs consistently. The average SNAP benefit amounts to just $6 per person per day, which can be challenging to stretch, especially with rising food costs due to inflation.

These systemic issues underscore the need for continued advocacy, policy changes, and community-based solutions to address food insecurity and inequity. While expanding EBT access to popular food delivery apps like Grubhub may seem like an attractive idea, it‘s important to prioritize initiatives that provide dignified, sustainable, and nutritious food options for all.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, Grubhub does not currently accept EBT as a payment method, primarily due to SNAP restrictions on hot prepared foods and logistical challenges with integrating EBT into its platform. However, EBT users can still take advantage of grocery delivery from participating retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, and some regional supermarket chains.

If you rely on SNAP benefits to feed yourself or your family, my expert advice is to focus on maximizing your EBT dollars by planning meals around whole, affordable ingredients, comparing prices across stores, utilizing digital coupons and discounts, and taking advantage of free delivery promos when possible. Remember, you can always visit the USDA SNAP website or contact your local benefits office for personalized guidance and resources.

Ultimately, expanding access to online food purchasing with EBT is just one piece of the larger puzzle when it comes to promoting food security and nutrition for all. It will take a combination of innovative public policies, private sector initiatives, and community-driven solutions to truly address the root causes of hunger and ensure that everyone has access to the healthy, affordable food they need to thrive.

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Does Grubhub Accept EBT? An Expert‘s Guide for Savvy Shoppers - Marketing Scoop (2024)
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