DAVENPORT, Iowa - Food stamps are now making their way to the internet. Major online retailers like Amazon will start accepting food stamps in seven states. Hy-Vee in Iowa will also accept food stamps online.
The U.S Department of Agriculture is helping 43 million low-income Americans who use food stamps get better access to healthy food and hopes it could lead to a healthy change in small communities.
“To go to the store and pick up a bag of apples isn't just the price, it's the time,” says Nick Martinez.
The USDA is trying a pilot program that would allow grocery stores in seven states including Iowa, to accept food stamps online. Amazon is testing the program in New York, New Jersey and Maryland. Hy-Vee in Iowa is also on board.
“I think anyone can benefit from healthy eating and if it makes it easier for families, I’m all for it,” says Alyssa Green.
Currently, food stamps can only be used in store and require a pin number like a debit card. The two year pilot program plans to create a way for Americans to use their benefits without technical problems, fraud or security issues.
“I could see other people giving out their food to other people or selling it. That could be a negative but other than that, I think it would be a great thing,” says Kelley Wallace.
“Amazon is excited to participate in the USDA SNAP online purchasing pilot,” the Seattle, Washington-based company said. “We are committed to making food accessible through online grocery shopping, offering all customers the lowest prices possible.”
The program is designed to help families in rural areas where access to healthy meals is sometimes limited.
“For people who are low income that don't have a means to get there, this is definitely a plus,” says Martinez.
The USDA also hopes to add more retailers in the future making online food stamps a national change.
“For someone who is super busy with work and family this is truly something that will fit into that family dynamic,” added Martinez.
For now, the program is not being offered in Illinois. Shipping costs will not be covered under the food pilot program.
It’s slated to begin this summer.
Retailers - Pilot States*
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)