The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Thursday several companies will soon be able to receive food stamps as a form of payment. One of these companies involved in the pilot program includes the online mega retailer, Amazon.
While, Amazon is working on delivering cashier less grocery stores, the USDA is working on making it easier for low income individuals to make purchases online.
The USDA included seven different retail firms that were now in part of a pilot program that allows for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, to purchase groceries via the Internet. So when will food stamps beneficiaries be able to purchase their groceries online? Well, according to the USDA press release, the program will start this summer.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack explained that ecommerce can help many SNAP participants make healthier choices. Especially, those living in urban and rural communities were access to fruits and vegetables can be a problem.
“We’re looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP,” Tom Vilsack added.
Starting this summer, Amazon will be able to receive food stamps from low-income individuals in Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. Other companies participating in the pilot program include FreshDirect, Safeway, ShopRite, Hy-Vee, Inc, Hart’s Local Grocers and Dash’s Market.
The program will tested in New York, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania and Iowa.
The USDA explains that this new pilot program will examine the benefits of online ordering and payments. The government agency argues that there are many security challenges, which will need to be addressed before it is available around the country. In addition, the SNAP program will only let low-income beneficiaries to purchase SNAP authorized products. Not to mention, SNAP will not pay for delivery or service charges.
With that being said, the USDA plans on implementing this program nationwide for SNAP beneficiaries, once the pilot program is completed and current unforeseen problems are addressed.
In many rural and urban areas access to healthy food options is a problem, which can contribute to obesity and other health issues. In order to combat this issue, the USDA spent nearly $20 million to help low-income families purchase healthy produce. The grant program was aimed to increase the purchase of healthy foods in low income areas. Since President Obama took office, Visack explained previous programs helped nearly 8 million SNAP beneficiaries purchase fruits and vegetables,
SNAP was created to help stop Americans from going hungry. Currently, the SNAP program helps millions of families with nearly 50% of all SNAP participants being children.