By Sarah Oliver,
Money and Investing Writer
Amazon (NYSE: AMZN) is an online store known for its large variety of products, reasonable prices, and quick delivery services. Beginning in the Summer of 2017, the company will start accepting food stamps for grocery delivery orders.
This is part of a program created by the US Department of Agriculture in the hopes that it will allow the delivery of healthier food options to people located in areas with limited access to fresh grocery options. To begin, he program will allow Amazon customers located in New Jersey, New York, and Maryland to purchase groceries with food stamps.
The program will continue to expand into more states as it becomes more developed. In order to participate, these customers must be able to pay for the delivery charges, or purchase an Amazon Prime membership. The Prime membership allows Amazon customers to receive free shipping with the membership price of $99 per year.
While the program will allow customers to use their food stamps toward their purchases, certain food items such as fresh produce, meat, and dairy will require an additional membership to Amazon Prime Fresh. The cost of this membership is 14.99 per month.
Other retailers are also participating in this Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) including FreshDirect, ShopRite, and Hy-Vee in select locations. Two smaller New York chains, Hart’s Local Grocers and Dash’s market place will also participate in the SNAP program.
Recipients of the United States Food Stamp program receive electronic debit cards which are used in place of actual stamps. While the costs of delivery and membership fees will not be covered by the Food Stamps, Amazon hope to expand its demographics through participating in this program.
It is still unclear whether or not the shipments will be direct to customers home or available for pick up at a more central location. Currently, Wal-Mart stands as the largest food retailer in the United States, due to low costs of products. It is the hope of Amazon and other major retailers that bringing this program to their companies will allow them to expand and reach many different consumers.
The SNAP program has proved to be effective in providing healthier food options to low income families in poverty stricken areas. According to USA Today, “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), distributed $66 billion in food aid to 43 million low-income Americans, half of them children and 10% people over 60, according to USDA.” This two year pilot program is the first of its kind to accept online payments for food delivery services.
In a world where consumers are continuing to purchase more and more items online, it is important that the program is made easily accessible to people of all demographics.
Marketing experts have stated that this program will need to be marketed in a way that is entirely different from Amazon’s typical marketing. It is the hope of the USDA that allowing these options to people in low-income areas will allow them to make healthier choices for themselves and their families
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 24th print edition.
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