WASHINGTON - Amazon is now accepting food stamp benefits in seven states as part of a pilot program with the Department of Agriculture, the tech giant announced.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries in New York, Washington, Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, Florida and Oregon can apply their benefits to online Amazon grocery orders, as well as other participating stores, according to a blog post from Kristina Herrmann, Amazon's director of underserved populations.
Demand for online grocery delivery has spiked with most Americans under shelter-in-place orders due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. An average of 37.5 million people participated in the food stamp program in 2019, according to government numbers.
"Amazon enthusiastically volunteered to work with the USDA and participate in this landmark pilot because we believe in the goals of this program and its potential to significantly extend the value of SNAP benefits," Hermann wrote.
SNAP recipients without Amazon Prime memberships can order from Amazon Fresh in select states "with free shipping available on Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry," she wrote.
Amazon believes the program will "dramatically increase access to food" for SNAP beneficiaries who live in more rural or remote areas, Hermann wrote.
Along with D.C. and West Virginia, California, North Carolina, Arizona and Idaho also joined the USDA's online SNAP pilot program in April, according to the Department, though it is unclear when the program will become operational in those states.
"The 2014 Farm Bill mandated a pilot be conducted to test the feasibility and implications of allowing retail food stores to accept SNAP benefits through online transactions," the USDA's website reads.
The department's website also says that the purchase process will be just as secure as paying with SNAP benefits in-person at a grocery store.