USDA to Test Use of Food Stamps Online, Expects Influx of Online Grocery Shoppers
Every year, over 43 million low-income people (nearly half of which are children) are assisted by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Established in 1964, SNAP (originally the Food Stamp Act) was mandated by law to be “operated through normal channels of trade.”
Today, online shopping has become a very normal channel of trade for consumers worldwide and, as of pretty recently, e-commerce has expanded to include the grocery arm of the Food and Beverage industry. This summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be launching a two-year test program in the hopes of providing online shopping access to SNAP participants.
How it works
Seven grocery retailers have been selected to participate in the program. These retailers – which include Amazon, FreshDirect and Safeway – are all part of the Internet Retailer’s 2016 Top 100 Guide and represent a variety of store types in both rural and urban areas. The variety of stores will hopefully serve to better test the program’s feasibility in a variety of settings.
The pilot program will test the online ordering and payment process in order to address any technical or security issues that may arise before there is any possibility of a national roll-out. SNAP assistance will only count towards the price of eligible goods, not any delivery or service charges that may or may not be part of the checkout process.
Why does this matter for your business?
If this program proves to be successful, retailers (and the brands they carry) can expect an influx in e-commerce customers, ones that were previously barred from being able to purchase online due to their specific method of payment. Joe Dash, owner of Dash’s Market, a participating retailer in the program, sees huge potential. The program could not only increase sales, but help those in need. “We’re now able to serve a segment of the population who we currently can’t get to and 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. It’s an honor and a privilege to be among seven supermarkets in the country selected for this program,” he said.
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