Major online food retailers including Amazon will begin accepting food stamps from those participating in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“Online purchasing is a potential lifeline for SNAP participants living in urban neighborhoods and rural communities where access to healthy food choices can be limited,” USDA secretary Tom Vilsack said in a release. “We’re looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP.”
Starting this summer, the pilot program will take place in seven states: Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Iowa, and Oregon. Amazon (AMZN), FreshDirect, Safeway, ShopRite, Hy-Vee, Hart’s Local Grocers, and Dash’s Market are all set to participate. The USDA said it eventually hopes to add more retailers and make using food stamps online a national option.
“Amazon is excited to participate in the USDA SNAP online purchasing pilot,” the company said in a statement. “We are committed to making food accessible through online grocery shopping, offering all customers the lowest prices possible.”
Being able to use digital food stamps could be an important step for elderly or disabled SNAP participants who may have trouble leaving their homes to go grocery shopping. Plus, as Fortune
‘s Michael Addady first wrote
back in September, it could also help bring healthier food options to people living in “food deserts” without easy access to fresh ingredients.