Money & The EconomyUS News

Food Stamps Now Available to Use Online

Food stamp users will be able to purchase their groceries online in a pilot partnership program between mega-supermarket companies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA announced Thursday its launch of a “SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot” permitting food stamp users to buy their groceries online for pickup or delivery. Amazon and Walmart are participating in the program, and ShopRite supermarket chain will join the pilot next week, according to the department.

Amazon and ShopRite will operate the pilot program out of New York City for resident Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) users. Walmart will run its program in upstate New York, according to the USDA.

“People who receive SNAP benefits should have the opportunity to shop for food the same way more and more Americans shop for food – by ordering and paying for groceries online,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a Thursday statement announcing the program’s launch.

Food stamps enable roughly 40 million Americans — about 12 percent of the U.S. population — to access free food, according to Reuters.

“SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net,” according to the USDA.

Amazon shoppers using food stamps will be able to shop on Prime Pantry and AmazonFresh, two subscription services that usually require membership fees.

“The pilot will eventually expand to other areas of New York as well as Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington,” according to the USDA’s statement.

Walmart has approximately 275 stores offering online order and grocery pickup in the states eligible for the food stamp pilot program, according to spokeswoman Molly Blakeman, Reuters reported.

“We look forward to monitoring how these pilots increase food access and customer service to those we serve, specifically those who may experience challenges in visiting brick and mortar stores,” Perdue said Thursday.

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