New York State SNAP beneficiaries will be able to purchase online groceries from Walmart, Amazon and ShopRite through a new pilot program, according to USDA, which administers the program for low-income individuals and families. The test will begin in select areas of New York before expanding to Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington State.
ShopRite and Amazon will initially cover the New York City area while Walmart handles upstate New York, with plans to add more retailers and bring the program statewide in the near future. The targets of the pilot program are SNAP recipients who have trouble getting fresh food from brick-and-mortar stores, which accounts for approximately 20% of beneficiaries, according to 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,” said Sonny Perdue, USDA Secretary in a statement. “As technology advances, it is important for SNAP to advance, too, so we can ensure the same shopping options are available for both non-SNAP and SNAP recipients.”
SNAP benefits will cover food, but participants won’t be allowed to use them to pay for service or delivery fees. Amazon will give SNAP participants free shipping on AmazonFresh orders of $50 or more, and reduce shipping fees to less than $10 for orders under that amount. Amazon Pantry orders will become free at the $35 mark, charging $5.99 for smaller orders.
Walmart will let SNAP beneficiaries order groceries and pick them up at the 275 stores initially eligible in the pilot, according to CNBC. Industry analysts estimate that just under 5% of the retail giant’s domestic revenue comes from purchases made with SNAP benefits.