WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that seven retail firms will take part in a pilot designed to enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase their groceries online. The two-year pilot is slated to begin this summer.
"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.
The seven firms selected are:
- Amazon: Maryland, New Jersey, New York
- FreshDirect: New York
- Safeway: Maryland, Oregon, Washington
- ShopRite: Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
- Hy-Vee Inc.: Iowa
- Hart's Local Grocers: New York (based in Rochester)
- Dash's Market: New York (based in Buffalo)
“We’re now able to serve a segment of the population who we currently can’t get to and [who] can’t get to us. Whether they’re low-income families, mobility-impaired or without transportation, we’re now able to improve healthy food access to those community members who need it most,” said Joe Dash, owner of Dash’s Market. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be among seven supermarkets in the country selected for this program.”
USDA says that the seven firms represent a variety of store types, including national online retailers as well as large grocery chains and smaller, regional networks to appropriately test online SNAP purchasing in different settings. Pilots will take place in seven states in both rural and urban areas, marking the next critical step in bringing the online purchasing option to SNAP clients.
While USDA has authorized SNAP online grocery ordering in a few locations, this pilot will test both online ordering and payment. The department says that online payment presents technical and security challenges that will need to be examined and fully addressed before it is offered nationwide. SNAP participants will only be able to use their benefits to purchase eligible items online, and not to pay for service or delivery charges.
USDA anticipates that it will add additional retailers to the pilot.