Amazon is working to enable virtually all households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to use electronic benefits transfer (EBT) to pay for online grocery orders.
Seattle-based Amazon said yesterday that its e-grocery services now reach SNAP recipients in 48 states and the District of Columbia — with Montana and Louisiana the most recent additions — giving over 99% of SNAP households the ability to use their benefits online with the e-tailer. Through early April, just under 22 million households received SNAP benefits.
SNAP customers can shop for groceries via two Amazon services: Amazon Grocery (shelf-stable food and household items, in varying sizes) and Amazon Fresh (fresh foods such as produce, meat and other items, available in selected metropolitan regions), both with free shipping available. To reduce barriers to entry for online grocery shopping, Amazon noted that it has waived the Prime membership requirement for SNAP participants to access Amazon Fresh.
“With online acceptance of SNAP, Amazon’s selection, competitive pricing and home delivery can improve the grocery shopping experience for SNAP participants,” Amazon said in a blog post on Wednesday announcing expanded SNAP EBT access.
Amazon is one of the original retailer participants — along with Walmart — in the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, launched in April 2019 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to allow SNAP beneficiaries to buy groceries online for delivery or pickup.
The pilot stems from the 2014 Farm Bill, which authorized the USDA to test online purchasing for recipients before rolling it out nationally. FNS, which administers SNAP, issued a call for retailer volunteers for the pilot in September 2016 and then in January 2017 offered participation in the initiative’s first phase to Amazon, Walmart, ShopRite, Safeway, Hy-Vee, FreshDirect, Dash’s Market and Wright’s Markets. Dozens of chain and independent grocers now take part in the program.
“What launched in 2019 as a pilot for expansion into only 10 states has quickly fast-tracked to a nearly national program in order to meet the evolving needs of customers, both during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” Amazon stated in the blog. “Amazon volunteered to participate as a retailer in the USDA’s SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot in 2016 because we believe in its goals and to ensure that all customers have the opportunity to order groceries online.”
Currently, Amazon said, SNAP recipients in 38 states and the District of Columbia can pay directly via SNAP EBT for Amazon online grocery purchases. Those states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The company added that it’s working to expand SNAP EBT functionality to more states.
Overall, SNAP online grocery shopping is now available in 49 states and D.C., with Alaska being the only state where the service hasn’t yet been approved. Amazon, Walmart and Aldi are the only grocery retailers enabling SNAP online grocery shopping on a national scale.
“Amazon is proud to continue to expand online SNAP acceptance to beneficiaries in more states,” Amazon said in the blog, “and we remain committed to making food accessible through online grocery shopping, offering all customers convenience, time savings and low prices delivered straight to their door.”