Online grocery shopping can be incredibly convenient, but it’s not always accessible to people who are lower-income. A new program aims to fix that by offering online grocery shopping for those using the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the launch of its two-year pilot program based in New York. This allows SNAP recipients to shop for groceries online with Amazon and Walmart. ShopRite will also join the program early next week.
In a statement, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said:
“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. 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.”
Retailers will have limited delivery in the New York pilot areas. ShopRite and Amazon are providing services to the New York City area, while Walmart will service upstate New York locations.
Although the pilot is starting small, the USDA said it will eventually expand to other areas of New York, as well as Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.
Nearly 3 million New York residents received SNAP benefits in 2017, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That comes out to about 1 in 7 people, so the program is already making online grocery shopping available to a huge population.
“The ultimate goal of this pilot is to pave the way for a national rollout once the USDA identifies the best path to large-scale implementation,” Amazon said, according to Business Insider.
Although the USDA didn’t elaborate on who, additional retailers are slated to join the program in the future.