Bay Area residents who rely on food stamps will soon be able to use them to buy groceries that they order online.
The United States Department of Agriculture in March approved a request by online grocer Good Eggs for permission to accept the subsidized payments, though it still cannot take them online.
Food stamps -- known formally as CalFresh or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or informally as EBT, for the Electronic Benefit Transfer cards that recipients use -- are a federal subsidy available for very-low-income people. Good Eggs, which sells locally grown produce, specialty baked goods, meat and prepared food, delivers to customers in cities from San Rafael to Palo Alto.
Rahmin Sarabi, who helped found the company, said the effort to make it food stamp-accessible, which he led, started last year when Good Eggs tested giving discounts to low-income customers. The pilot program’s participants tended to be middle-aged women with children or older people on fixed incomes, Sarabi said. One family in San Francisco’s Mission District spent about $300 every month on things like prepared rotisserie chickens and masa for making tortillas.
Many found the products too expensive even with a 50 percent discount, Sarabi said, but they offered a common refrain: “If you accepted EBT, this could be great for me.”