Amazon will soon become one of the initial participants in a pilot program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will see the internet retail goliath accept food stamps, traditionally only usable in certain brick-and-mortar stores.
Residents in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Iowa, and Oregon who qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) will be able to buy groceries online from Amazon, as well as from a selection of smaller retailers that includes Safeway, ShopRite, Hy-Vee, Hart’s Local Grocers, and Dash’s Market.
“Amazon is excited to participate in the USDA SNAP online purchasing pilot,” the company said in a press release. “We are committed to making food accessible through online grocery shopping, offering all customers the lowest prices possible.”
According to a USDA news release, SNAP funds will only be eligible for use on the food items themselves; customers will still foot the bill for any service or delivery charges.
The SNAP program provides $74 billion per year in food subsidies for lower-income families; however, recent studies show that a significant portion of those funds are spent on “sweetened drinks, desserts, salty snacks, candy, and sugar,” Breitbart reported.
Alongside nutritional concerns surrounding the program are worries that food stamp fraud, which already costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year, will become even easier if the online purchasing platform does not include adequate protections.
“USDA is committed to maintaining the security of SNAP benefits for both the protection of SNAP participation accounts and to prevent and detect trafficking, so SNAP online purchases must have a higher level of security than most other online purchases,” the USDA stated.