Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (181366)
Credit: Bronx Borough President Office/Flickr

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has written a letter to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging his agency to adopt rules that will make it easier for consumers to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits online with Electronic Benefit Transfers cards.

Initially proposing such changes in his “State of the Borough” address in February, Diaz said allowing consumers to use their EBT card similar to a credit or debit card to purchase groceries would lead to lower prices and greater options for those living in food deserts or facing food insecurity.

In 2014, the Bronx was part of a demonstration project that allowed online grocery retailer FreshDirect to conduct a pilot program in which people used their SNAP/EBT cards online to buy food. Dias wants to expand the program statewide and to other retailers.

According to the USDA, 31 percent of children and 21 percent of seniors in the Bronx live in food insecure homes. The borough also has high rates of diabetes and obesity.