Online grocery shopping is making a change for the better as it was recently announced that major retail chains Amazon, FreshDirect, Shop Rite, and other online grocers will now accept food stamps in a pilot program done in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to Mashable, the two-year pilot program for families participating in SNAP ( Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) will start this summer in parts of Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
“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 a statement. “We’re looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP.”
Amazon also released a statement outlining their joy with being a part of the momentous pilot program.
“Amazon is excited to participate in the USDA SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot. We are committed to making food accessible through online grocery shopping, offering all customers the lowest prices possible. Amazon’s selection and competitive pricing can improve the grocery shopping experience for SNAP participants while helping them extend their benefits further,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
FreshDirect also released a statement confirming their participation within the program.
“FreshDirect is honored to have been selected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Online Purchasing Pilot (Pilot),” FreshDirect said in an e-mailed statement. “At FreshDirect, we 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.”
Other major online grocery retailers to be involved with the USDA’s program include Safeway, ShopRite, Hy-Vee, Hart’s Local Grocers and Dash’s Market.
Some limitation within the pilot program will allow customers to only use food stamps to pay for eligible items which also doesn’t include service or delivery fees for online ordering. Other limitations include FreshDirect’ service only being available within two zip codes in the Bronx.
The government plans to add additional retailers and eventually offer online ordering for SNAP participants nationwide.