This is amazing news!
The USDA has chosen seven states to participate in a pilot program that has the potential to totally change so many lives.
SNAP, which is a federal agency that oversees low-income folks' supplemental nutritional food programs, is collaborating with mega-online retailer Amazon, as well as a handful of grocery chains (like Safeway and ShopRite), to help allow food stamp recipients to actually purchase their groceries online.
Basically, participating grocery chains will accept federal benefits for online food purchases upon the launch of the program, which is a total incentive for more chains to join in on the cause.
The aim of SNAP, according to the Baltimore Sun, is to make sure that people in low-income communities also have access to healthy and nutritious foods. That means that food deserts could potentially no longer inhibit people from eating fresh produce should they desire.
Tom Vilsack, the USDA secretary, said in a press release per the Baltimore Sun: "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…We're looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP."
Naysayers for the pilot are worried that online shopping has the potential to hurt locally owned grocery stores that have been serving low-income communities in the absence of larger chain supermarkets.
Additionally, the pilot program was actually supposed to begin around 2014; however, the USDA was unable to comply with the 2014 Farm Bill that required them to test online shopping with food stamps because a lot of online retailers did not yet have advanced enough technology to participate.
Eventually, if everything runs smoothly, the USDA wants to continue adding retailers and expand the online grocery shopping experience with SNAP nationwide.
Until then, let's keep our fingers crossed that this all works, and trust in Amazon!
"Enabling SNAP participants to shop online and have their groceries delivered makes fresh foods more accessible to everyone, including those who may not be able to make a weekly trip to the store," Amazon stated, per the Baltimore Sun. "We're proud to be part of combating food insecurity in these communities."