- Amazon has expanded its participation in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and will now accept the benefits in 36 states, according to a company announcement. The online retailer will continue to add more states to the list in the coming months.
- Shoppers using benefits to buy groceries have three options through Amazon. They can use Amazon Grocery, which offers shelf-stable food and household items in multiple sizes; Amazon Pantry, also a source for food items and household products in “everyday” sizes; and Amazon Fresh, which carries fresh produce, meat and other items. Free shipping will be available through all three services, and Amazon will not require SNAP recipients to have a Prime membership to use Amazon Fresh.
- Amazon first signed on to pilot online grocery for SNAP recipients in 2016, and was part of the USDA’s larger program rollout, which began last year and has been expanding.
Given Amazon’s large presence in grocery e-commerce, the retailer's involvement in the USDA's effort to allow SNAP participants to use their benefits online is key to enabling more people to buy food without entering a store.
The USDA has been working to approve states’ ability to let recipients use their benefits online and announced additional state participation in May. States in all regions of the U.S. are now involved, accounting for 90% of SNAP households. The agency has also been working to add more retailers to the program.
Walmart, ShopRite, Hy-Vee and Kroger are among the other retailers that have started to accept SNAP benefits for online grocery purchases. Despite the addition of new grocers, however, there can be delays as retailers get up and running. Grocers have to update their systems to process the secure PIN numbers SNAP participants have to enter when they check out and make other adjustments.
While Amazon may be committed to expanding the availability of online grocery ordering, it also stands to profit from the expansion as shoppers seek ways to buy food online because of the pandemic. Whether people are participating in SNAP temporarily or long-term, the convenience and broad array of products Amazon offers could build loyalty for the long haul.