Amazon is now accepting federal benefit payments for online grocery orders in the Midwest and South.
The e-tail giant has been participating in a pilot with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows consumers who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits — typically referred to as food stamps — to purchase groceries online for home delivery. Eligible consumers can now use SNAP payments for online grocery purchases in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, and Oregon.
Amazon has already been accepting SNAP payments for online grocery orders in Washington and New York, while major rival Walmart is currently accepting SNAP payments for online groceries in Washington.
Through the pilot, SNAP participants can use their benefits to purchase eligible food items, but are not able to use SNAP benefits to pay for service or delivery charges. SNAP recipients in pilot areas will have the ability to shop the grocery and household selection on AmazonFresh and Prime Pantry without requiring a membership fee, and with free shipping for orders of a minimum cost.
Other retailers participating in the New York state pilot include ShopRite. Amazon plans to expand the pilot to other states, including Maryland. The ultimate goal of the pilot is to pave the way for a national rollout once the USDA identifies the best path to large-scale implementation.
“Amazon is proud to continue participating in the USDA SNAP online purchasing pilot, expanding the offering from New York to Washington, Iowa, Oregon, Alabama, Nebraska, and beyond in 2020,” said Kristina Herrmann. director of underserved populations at Amazon. “We remain committed to making food accessible through online grocery shopping, offering all customers convenience, time savings, and low prices.”
The 2014 Farm Bill authorized USDA to conduct and evaluate a pilot for online purchasing prior to national implementation. The pilot phase is intended to ensure online transactions are processed safely and securely. USDA anticipates all eligible and interested retailers who can meet the requirements to process online SNAP transactions will eventually be able to take part, though the timeline is dependent on the progress of the pilot and any regulations which may need to be issued.