Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and the Secretary of the Department of the Family, Orlando López Belmonte, announced that beneficiaries of the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN) will be able to make their purchases completely online from home through a pilot project approved by the federal government.
“The efforts made by the government and the Department of the Family to deal with the situation caused by Covid-19 and reduce its impact on the population it serves continue to bear fruit,” said the first executive.
The administrator of the Administration of Socioeconomic Development of the Family (Adsef), Alberto Fradera Vázquez, stressed that this expansion of services aims to provide equal treatment to PAN participants in the purchase of groceries and reduce the exits of participants from the program to minimize the chances of contagion with Covid-19.
“Currently many businesses have online shopping available. However, to complete the process of picking up and / or paying for your groceries, some kind of direct interaction with the store is necessary. What is significant about this change is that from the implementation of this program, this contact will not be necessary since the process will be similar to that used with any credit or debit card, “he said.
The administrator pointed out that “the only party not authorized to be paid with PAN funds is delivery.”
The pilot project will begin in December, when the certification period for eligible businesses begins. This is possible after the government received authorization to join the states that already use this technological mechanism and thus it will be contained in the State Plan approved for Puerto Rico at the end of last October.
Next week, the details of the pilot project will be discussed with members of the professional organization representing the food sector, the Chamber of Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution (MIDA) to guide the compliance processes, necessary technology and certification.
The online shopping pilot project started in April 2019 in New York State. As of March 2020, they approved the start of the project in the states of Alabama, Iowa, and Oregon. In April it expanded to Nebraska. As of October 2020, some 47 states have started the pilot project. Puerto Rico is the first territory to obtain approval for the online shopping project.
Currently, some 840,647 families participate in the program, of which 225,677 have entered as of April 2020. As of November 2020, over 300,000 older adults participate in the program.