Tag Archives: SNAP

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon and Walmart on Thursday kicked off a two-year government pilot program allowing low-income shoppers on government food assistance in New York to shop and pay for their groceries online for the first time.

ShopRite will join the two retailers on the program early next week, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The USDA has long required customers using electronic benefits transfer, or EBT, pay for their purchases at the actual time and place of sale. So the move marks the first time SNAP customers can pay for their groceries online.

ShopRite and Amazon are providing the service to the New York City area, and Walmart is providing the service online in upstate New York locations. The agency said the pilot will eventually expand to other areas of New York as well as Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

The pilot program will test both online ordering and payment. SNAP participants will be able to use their benefits to purchase eligible food items but will not be able to use SNAP to pay for service or delivery charges, the agency said.

“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,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “As technology advances, it is important for SNAP to advance too, so we can ensure the same shopping options are available for both non-SNAP and SNAP recipients.”

Perdue said he will be monitoring how the pilot program increases food access and customer service, specifically for those who have trouble visiting physical stores.

Roughly 38 million individuals receive food stamps in the U.S., according to the USDA. Nearly $52 billion, or 82% of all food stamp dollars, were spent at big box stores and grocery chains in 2017, according to the most recent USDA data.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the USDA to conduct and evaluate a pilot program for online purchasing prior to national implementation. The USDA says the move was intended to ensure online transactions are processed safely and securely.

Seattle-based Amazon said those who qualify don’t need to be Prime members to buy groceries with their benefits. They’ll get free access to its AmazonFresh service, which delivers meat, dairy and fresh produce to shoppers’ doorsteps. And they’ll also be able to use Prime Pantry, which delivers packaged goods like cereal and canned food.

However, they’ll need to spend over a certain amount to qualify for free shipping: $50 at AmazonFresh and $25 at Amazon.com. The online shopping giant launched a website, amazon.com/snap , where people can check if they qualify. Amazon said it’s working with the USDA to expand service to other parts of New York state.

Amazon.com Inc. was on the initial list for the government pilot program, and Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Inc. made the list later. The world’s largest retailer, however, in late 2017 had started allowing customers in limited locations to order items through its online grocery pickup service and then pay for it in person at the stores.

“Access to convenience and to quality, fresh groceries shouldn’t be dictated by how you pay,” Walmart said. “This pilot program is a great step forward, and we are eager to expand this to customers in other states where we already have a great online grocery.”

Walmart said that nearly 300 locations with grocery pickup in the states will be part of the USDA government program.

WASHINGTON– Low-income Nebraskans recovering from recent flooding could be eligible for food benefits through the Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) program approved today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The department also approved the state’s request for temporary flexibility in meeting school lunch meal pattern requirements.

Households who may not normally be eligible under regular SNAP rules may qualify for D-SNAP, if they meet the disaster income limits and have qualifying disaster-related expenses.

“USDA is committed to helping Nebraskans get back on their feet in whatever capacity we can,” Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps said. “The D-SNAP program is an important step forward to help flood impacted families get food on the table.”

D-SNAP eligible households in the affected areas will receive one month of benefits, equivalent to the maximum amount of benefits normally issued to a SNAP household of their size, to meet their food needs. To be eligible for D-SNAP, a household must live in an identified disaster area, have been affected by the disaster, and meet certain D-SNAP eligibility criteria. Nebraska will share information about D-SNAP operating dates and locations through the local media.

The timing of D-SNAP implementation varies with the unique circumstances of each disaster but always begins after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to purchase and prepare food at home. Before operating a D-SNAP program, a state must ensure that proper public information, staffing and resources are in place.

The D-SNAP announcement today is part of USDA’s continuing efforts to help Nebraskans cope with the disaster. USDA is also allowing school lunch and breakfast meal pattern flexibility for schools in Nebraska through April 26.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans with the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit www.fns.usda.gov/disaster.