A two-year pilot launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service is giving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants the ability to select and pay for their groceries online. The pilot went live in New York state in April of last year and has now expanded to its second state, Washington.
Amazon and Walmart are currently the two participating retailers in Washington, while Amazon, Walmart and ShopRite offer the program in New York.
"In addition to enabling SNAP EBT as a payment method, Amazon has made Amazon Fresh and Pantry available to Washington SNAP recipients without a Prime membership and free shipping available, just as it did in New York last year," Amazon said in a company blog post. "As we expand participating areas throughout the life of the pilot, Amazon believes the program will dramatically increase access to food for more remote customers and help to mitigate the public health crisis of food deserts."
There are plans in the coming months to expand the program to Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Oregon. The USDA selected currently participating retailers in 2017 for the pilot.
Only eligible food may be purchased with SNAP benefits; delivery fees and other associated charges may not be paid for with SNAP benefits.
"We continue to be excited to be part of the USDA’s pilot program and to be able to make our Grocery Pickup and Delivery service available to more and more people, regardless of their payment method," Walmart said in a statement. "Access to convenience, quality and fresh groceries shouldn’t be dictated by how you pay. We have a strong presence in the states in which the pilot is live and we look forward to expanding."
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and ecommerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. The company is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States. Seattle-based Amazon, under its Whole Foods Market banner, is No. 10 on the list.