Amazon starts pilot program to accept food stamps for online grocery purchases

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It is important to note that ONLY groceries will be eligible to be paid for with SNAP. Amazon Prime will have to be paid out of pocket by the user.

This summer Amazon and six other companies will begin accepting food stamps for online grocery purchases. The pilot program is backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an effort to reach out to those who live in “food deserts” with little access to fresh food and produce. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also hoping that the program will change how people view food stamps and those who use them. The program not only represents an opportunity for those who use food stamps but it also gives Amazon a foot into a market largely held by grocery chains like Walmart.

Five national stores are taking part in the USDA pilot, Amazon, FreshDirect in New York, Safeway in Maryland, Oregon and Washington, ShopRite in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and Hy-Vee in Iowa as well as two smaller companies, Hart’s Local Grocers and Dash’s Market, both in New York state.

While The U.S. Department of Agriculture is aiming at those in so-called “food deserts,” the program could be useful for those who don’t have transportation or those who have trouble getting around.

“For those who are on food stamps, their primary ‘computer’ most likely is their smart phone – so Amazon will have to have an education effort for these shoppers to download the amazon app to buy their groceries,” he said.

Actual food stamps are not used in the program since the program has converted to plastic, otherwise known as EBT or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). SNAP is basically how users will pay Amazon and other retailers for their groceries. It is important to note that ONLY groceries will be eligible to be paid for with SNAP. Amazon Prime and delivery services will have to be paid out of pocket by the user. The program is expected to be in pilot stage for two years and it will be interesting to see how it’s received and if it proves to be useful for people.

What do you think of Amazon and others accepting food stamps? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

  Source: USA Today
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