USDA Lets Low-Income Americans Order Food Online With EBT Card

The USDA is launching a pilot program in New York State which allows low-income Americans in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to buy and pay for their groceries online

The two-year test pilot will launch with Amazon and Walmart, followed shortly by ShopRite early next week. 

ShopRite and Amazon are providing service to the New York City area and Walmart is providing online service in upstate New York locations. Additional retailers are slated to participate in the pilot in coming months. The pilot will eventually expand to other areas of New York as well as Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. -usda.gov

While taxpayers won't be on the hook for service or delivery charges, those costs could otherwise go towards more groceries, less the cost of transportation to the store and back. 

"People who receive SNAP benefits should have the opportunity to shop for food the same way more and more Americans shop for food – by ordering and paying for groceries online. As technology advances, it is important for SNAP to advance too, so we can ensure the same shopping options are available for both non-SNAP and SNAP recipients," said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

"We look forward to monitoring how these pilots increase food access and customer service to those we serve, specifically those who may experience challenges in visiting brick and mortar stores." 

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized USDA to conduct and evaluate a pilot for online purchasing prior to national implementation. The pilot phase is intended to ensure online transactions are processed safely and securely. USDA anticipates all eligible and interested retailers who can meet the requirements to process online SNAP transactions will eventually be able to take part, though the timeline is dependent on the progress of the pilot and any regulations which may need to be issued. -usda.gov

There are currently over 40 million Americans receiving benefits under SNAP, or roughly 12.4% of Americans. 

We wonder if there will be any safeguards in place to prevent people from ordering $141 in lobster, steak and Mountain Dew. 

Who else will start offering online ordering with EBT cards?