The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has introduced a two-year online pilot project that allows members of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to shop and pay for their groceries.
Launched in the state of New York, the project initially allows SNAP households, who are having electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards issued by New York, to make online purchases. The pilot will test both online ordering and payment.
Amazon and Walmart have already joined the initial pilot with ShopRite set to join early next week. Additional retailers will also join the pilot in the upcoming months.
As part of the programme, Walmart is offering online delivery services in upstate New York, while ShopRite and Amazon are serving New York City.
Retailers participating in the programme are restricted to serve grocery orders only in the pilot areas in the state.
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue 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.
“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.
“We look forward to monitoring how these pilots increase food access and customer service to those we serve, specifically those who may experience challenges in visiting brick and mortar stores.”
Depending on the success of the two-year pilot project, the USDA will expand it to other areas of New York, along with Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.