One of the biggest challenges for some low-income families receiving food stamp benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is finding reliable transportation to and from the grocery store. According to CNN, a new pilot program being launched in the state of New York may make that problem a thing of the past.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed to allow SNAP recipients the option of using their food stamp benefits to not only purchase groceries online, but to have the groceries delivered to their homes.
CNN confirms several retailers including Walmart, Amazon, and ShopRite are assisting in the launch of a two-year pilot program that will make it possible for the 2.7 million households receiving food stamps in New York to use their benefits to pay for grocery delivery online. Presently, ShopRite and Amazon will be available to those living in the New York City area and Walmart will service the upstate locations.
The USDA does plan on working to add additional retailers to the program within the next few months. After testing out the program in the state of New York, the USDA also plans to expand the program to additional states including Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. Which retailers plan on joining Amazon, Walmart, and ShopRite as part of the new program is not currently known.
According to CNN, the agency is hoping to open the program to include SNAP recipients all across the United States.
The agency hopes the program will make purchasing groceries and keeping the kitchen stocked with food will be easier for working parents, the elderly, the disabled, and individuals without their own vehicle.
“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,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue explained.
As those who have been following SNAP-related news know, the launch of this new program comes just after the Trump administration announced a proposal to tighten employment requirements to qualify for the food stamps program. As The Inquisitr previously reported, the proposal would cost just shy of 1 million recipients to lose their benefits.
While at first it may seem like the food stamp recipients are the only benefactors of this new change, that’s not true. Online retailers like Amazon will see a spike in business and for the everyday consumer, this change means less lines at checkout. With this program, the online retailers would be tapping into the $63 billion food stamp market.
The USDA acknowledges one of the biggest challenges the program will have to overcome is issues with the delivery process. For example, retailers within the program will have to work out how to ship and deliver fresh produce to areas it may not be readily available in. Retailers will also have to resolve paying for delivery as SNAP recipients may or may not be able to tip delivery drivers the same way someone normally would with grocery delivery.