The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that seven retailers – with Amazon among them – have been selected to take part in a pilot that will enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to buy their groceries online.
“Online purchasing is a potential lifeline for SNAP participants living in urban neighborhoods and rural communities where access to healthy food choices can be limited,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“We’re looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP.”
The seven retailers (and the states in which they will participating) are: Amazon (Maryland, New Jersey, New York); FreshDirect (New York); Safeway (Maryland, Oregon, Washington); ShopRite (Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania); Hy-Vee (Iowa); Hart’s Local Grocers (New York); and Dash’s Market.
In a statement issued on Thursday (5 January), USDA said: “While USDA has authorized SNAP online grocery ordering in a few locations, this pilot will test both online ordering and payment. Online payment presents technical and security challenges that will need to be examined and fully addressed before it is offered nationwide. As with the core program, SNAP participants will only be able to use their benefits to purchase eligible items online – not to pay for service or delivery charges.”
USDA expects to add more retailers as the pilot progresses, with the eventual goal is “for this to be a national option for SNAP participants”.
USDA added that it has also started a purchase and delivery pilot recently, which is “designed for non-profits and government entities to improve access to groceries solely for homebound elderly and disabled SNAP participants”`.