Online Grocers Like Amazon, FreshDirect Will Soon Accept Food Stamps
Your first reaction to the news that customers may soon be able to use food stamps to shop on sites like Amazon and FreshDirect may have been a side-eye. However, a new USDA program could finally make healthy foods more accessible for low-income families in communities where such food is anything but easily available.
Online grocers like Amazon and Fresh Direct along with others (including Safeway, ShopRite and Hy-Vee to name a few) are partnering up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for an initiative called SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. The two-year pilot program will start this summer in parts of states like New York, New Jersey, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
Customers will have the chance to use their food stamps on certain eligible items, but won’t be able to use them towards the cost of service or delivery fees (and we know delivery fees can be a beast). With this initial rollout of the program, the USDA wants to see if its local grocers or well-known online grocers like Amazon are the best fit for SNAP users. They also want to figure out if it’s a better idea to go forward with online payment, or rather, have people order online and pay the deliverer in person.
And as pointed out by Mashable, the pilot program won’t be so far reaching in the states it starts in. For instance, use of food stamps toward FreshDirect services will only extend to two zip codes in the Bronx. But then again, the keyword here is “pilot.” The USDA plans to not only offer this opportunity for SNAP participants all across the country down the line, but they will also add more grocers.
All in all, those participating in this partnership are excited about the opportunity to make healthy, fresh food accessible to as many people as possible.
“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,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the official press release. “We’re looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP.”
FreshDirect seconded that, with a statement saying they “believe that fresh, high quality and healthy food options should be accessible to all. With the SNAP Pilot, we look forward to bringing the online purchasing option to SNAP clients and positively impacting all the communities that we serve.”
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