Amazon is hoping to grab some of the $66 billion doled out to the recipients of the food stamp program in this nation every year by offering a price break to those on this government program. There is a lot going on today with the food stamp program, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and it might not be considered all good news to those who receive this subsidy.
Star Parker, who is the founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, which is described by their website as a “public policy think tank that promotes market-based solutions to fight poverty,” appeared on Fox & Friends this morning. She talked about the major changes in the Food Stamp program that are responsible for an 85 percent drop in recipients in 13 Alabama counties.
She also talked about Amazon’s plans to give people on the food stamp program a price break in their Prime Membership program. The Wall Street Journal reports this new price cut as Amazon’s attempt to lure those low-income shoppers away from Walmart. Star Parker made her opinion very clear on this. She said in order to shop on Amazon you need a computer, so she asked — what are you doing on the food stamp program if you have a computer?
Amazon announced on Tuesday that they will offer nearly 20 percent of the nation’s population a break on the Prime fee. This 20 percent consists of people who are SNAP card holders that allow them to receive this government assistance for food. CBS News reports that the Amazon’s Prime membership is popular for those who can afford the $10.99 a month.
For the folks on food stamps that $10.99 each month can buy eggs, bread, milk, and butter for their family or enough food to make their family a dinner. With the price of food soaring today, a low-income family just doesn’t have that $10.99 a month to pay into the Amazon membership fee. Now that fee is offered to the Amazon customers on food stamps for $5.99 per month.
At a time when food prices are sky-high, AL.com reports that 13 counties in Alabama saw an 85 percent drop in people now receiving food stamps and this came after the state put mandatory work requirements back in place. This work requirement was started on January 1. Previously the counties, Greene, Hale, Perry, Dallas, Lowndes, Wilcox, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke, Washington, Choctaw, Sumter, and Barbou were exempt from the work requirements the rest of the state was under during the year 2016. Now the entire state is under this policy as of the first of this year.
Under the food stamp program, or SNAP, able-bodied single adults without dependents are limited to three months of food stamps within a three-year time span unless they participate in an approved training program or they are working. That policy was waived in several states when there were no jobs to be found starting back in 2011, which is when the nation saw the start of the economic turndown.
Alabama reinstated this work or training policy in the state’s counties as they showed the jobless rate dropping. The policy was reinstated for 54 counties in Alabama on January 1, 2016. The remaining 13 counties, which carried the highest unemployment rates have since recovered, so the work-training policy was reinstated for these last 13 counties on January 1, 2017.
Ending this exemption in the state has cut the numbers of recipients of food stamps drastically. These are people without dependents and who are able to work. This policy doesn’t effect people with dependents or those who are unable to work due to medical problems.
This decline in food stamp recipients in the last 13 Alabama counties was drastic. The counties had 5,538 single able-bodied people without dependents between the ages of 18 and 50 receiving food stamps last year. That number declined rapidly. By May 1 of this year, only 831 of those folks were left on the food stamp program, that is an 85 percent reduction.
Is dropping the Prime membership fee to $5.99 enough to get the low-income families to do their shopping online? That $5.99 could buy enough for a family to have a lunch or breakfast at home, so it will probably depend upon the individual family’s budget if this is even doable for many of the nation’s families. According to CBS News, the federally funded food stamp program doles out $66 billion a year to help feed the nation’s low-income families.
With 43 million people on the food stamp program, Amazon is reaching out in an attempt to bring in a chunk of that number to their online retail world. The average for benefits is about $125 a month per person on the food stamp program, but according to CBS News, “gaining even a small share of that spending could help Amazon boost revenue and its bottom line.”
So what does Amazon Prime offer?
According to the Amazon Prime page, members “receive all the benefits of Amazon Prime including FREE Two-Day Shipping for eligible purchases, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video, and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for $99 a year or $10.99 a month.” For Food Stamp recipients, the cost will be $5.99. There are other perks that go along with an Amazon Prime membership listed on their Amazon Prime membership page.
[Featured Image by Mark Lennihan/AP Images]