A pilot program that allows people who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP to purchase groceries online is being expanded under a measure approved Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

The law was approved as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in New York and across the country. Lawmakers approved the bill as another tool in limiting the spread of the virus, especially for vulnerable people. 

“During these tough times, families who are struggling to get by should not have to make the difficult decision of prioritizing putting food on the table over their health and safety,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky. “Thanks to this new law, we will be able to expand access to online groceries for SNAP recipients, while fighting the troubling trend of food insecurity head-on.

The measure will require the state to develop a plan that is meant to boost the participation of retailers in the online order program and seek federal approvals to ensure the benefits are used at as many stores as possible. 

"Expanding the pilot program which allows SNAP participants to purchase groceries online removes an unnecessary barrier and increases food accessibility for New Yorkers facing unprecedented challenges," said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, who sponsored the bill in his chamber. "The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity; it is crucial that we use every available resource to ensure that safe, easily accessible, nutritious food is available to every New Yorker."