(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today joined U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Anthony G. Brown, and David Trone (all D-Md.) in writing a letter to Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Lourdes R. Padilla and the President of the Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) Cailey Locklair urging them to ensure Maryland Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients are able to access grocery delivery and pick-up services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Members begin the letter, “We write today to ask that you to work to ensure that Maryland Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients have access to grocery delivery and pick-up services in light of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency. We believe that the Department of Human Services (DHS) should work to expedite statewide implementation of the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot. Additionally, we urge DHS and the Maryland Retailers Association to work together to utilize existing flexibilities to allow SNAP recipients to place grocery orders online or over the phone for delivery or pick-up while using their benefits. These flexibilities should remain in place at least until the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot is available statewide.”

“In order to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19, many Maryland residents have been using grocery delivery and pick-up services. However, these services are out-of-reach for Marylanders using SNAP benefits to purchase their groceries,” the Lawmakers note.

They continue, “We are pleased that Maryland was selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to participate in the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, which allows online grocery purchases using SNAP benefits. However, as you are aware, this pilot program is not yet operational in Maryland.”

The lawmakers stress the urgency of the issue, writing, “We believe providing SNAP recipients with the ability to make online purchases has significant value at all times, but it is now critical in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. We strongly urge DHS to work to make the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot available statewide as expeditiously as possible.”

The full text of the letter is available here.