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Exclusive Q&A: Amazon makes SNAP payments a priority

Nancy Dalton
Nancy Dalton, head of community experience and customer marketing, Amazon Access

In the past three years, Amazon has dramatically expanded its efforts to accept federal benefit payments for online and in-store grocery orders.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Nancy Dalton, head of community experience and customer marketing for Amazon Access, about Amazon’s efforts to become more affordable and accessible to customers on government assistance programs. 

Amazon Access is a “one-stop-shop” for customers to explore programs, discounts, and features that make shopping on Amazon easier and more affordable, including information on payment options like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) EBT federal benefit payments and Prime Access, Amazon’s discounted Prime membership for qualifying customers.

How has Amazon been working to expand SNAP/EBT availability?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot launched in April 2019, originally slated as a two-year program, and Amazon was one of the first retailers to launch SNAP online purchasing in partnership with it. 

To meet the needs of customers during the COVID-19 crisis, Amazon worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to rapidly expand access to online grocery shopping to Americans who rely on SNAP benefits across the country. 

Now, SNAP EBT acceptance is available to those eligible nationwide, and no matter where you are in the U.S., you can shop for groceries using your EBT card from, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market where available.

What made Amazon decide to pursue this goal?

Amazon Access was developed with the goal of giving all customers access to affordable, quality, diverse, and convenient groceries. Food is a basic necessity. Your ability to access food should not at all be dictated by where you live. 

We know that there are many different areas across the country where people don’t have access to a supermarket or are encountering transportation issues. Our grocery services and nationwide SNAP EBT payment acceptance can really make a difference in closing those gaps. We're committed to using Amazon’s size and scale for good.

I also have a personal connection to this work. Growing up, my mother was a SNAP recipient, and I have never forgotten what a valuable resource it was for our family. Like my story, customers’ budgets evolve throughout their lives. Assistance may be necessary today, but that could change in the future. Amazon wants to be there for customers throughout their journey, especially when they need us the most.  

What have the results been so far?

Since becoming one of the first retailers to launch SNAP online purchasing, Amazon has expanded its reach to serve all U.S. SNAP households with one or more SNAP online purchasing option. We also continue to expand our SNAP-eligible selection. Customers can choose from hundreds of thousands of SNAP-eligible items across Amazon stores, ranging from healthy snacks for children to gluten-free pasta for the family.

Through Prime Access, qualifying government assistance recipients gain access to all the benefits of a regular Prime membership at 50% of the cost. These benefits include exclusive deals, free delivery, discounts on groceries and everyday essentials, prescription savings and more. 

How does Amazon collaborate with community organizations in this effort?

To inform Amazon Access’s work, we launched a grassroots program to listen and learn from customers in communities across the country. This customer feedback is central to the design of our products and services so we can continue to invest in the things that best serve them. 

This year, we teamed up with nonprofit partners like the National Urban League, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, National Head Start Association, mRelief and others. We work to help amplify the reach of organizations like these across the country through event sponsorships, volunteer support at food distribution events, educational programming about how to access Federal Food and Nutrition programs, grocery donations and more.

Our goal in working with community-based organizations and state agencies is to help amplify the reach of their critical wrap around services.

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