Amazon announced yesterday that it has expanded the number of states in which supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) participants can buy groceries online through the retail giant. (h/t TechCrunch)
In a blog post yesterday, Amazon wrote:
Eleven states have been added the U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot enabling Amazon customers to use SNAP benefits to purchase groceries online (Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). We are committed to making food accessible through online shopping and we look forward to adding more states soon. Read about the program.
Amazon now offers SNAP purchasing in 25 states, plus the Washington DC area. Through the program, SNAP participants can pay for groceries online using their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. Other retailers in the program have included Walmart and ShopRite.
The ability for SNAP participants to purchase groceries online has always been an important issue. Many low-income families live in food deserts and are unable to access fresh, healthy food. The ability to have food delivered can not only lead to healthier lifestyles but also helps provide at least some equity when it comes to digital access to online grocery shopping.
The ability to shop for groceries online became more important these past couple of months as the COVID-19 pandemic made trips to the grocery store potentially deadly. People without access to delivery or curbside pickup are putting themselves at risk of contracting the disease.
Another startup looking to help SNAP participants get their groceries more safely online is All_EBT. That company uses a combination of virtual Visa cards and Facebook Messenger to allow people to purchase SNAP approved items from any online retailer.
There is still a lot of work left to be done when it comes to issues around food and digital equity, and expansion of services like Amazon’s are good first steps.