The USDA announced the launch of a new pilot program for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to begin purchasing food online. The program is limited to just a handful of states and retailers for now due to the higher security needed for food stamp online purchasing and the newness of the system. As the new system for SNAP food stamps is incorporated and security of the program tested, the USDA plans to expand this to include all retailers nationwide.

So far, the available retailers and states they will serve for the online order and purchase program is as follows:

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)

While food stamps have allowed the purchase of healthier food in recent years, its always required going to a grocery store or food retailer. But some of the 44 million people in SNAP live in so-called “food deserts,” areas where fresh food grocery stores barely exist or don’t exist at all. And at least 2 million low-income people live in food deserts without access to a vehicle.

While the pilot program won’t cover service or delivery fees, it will provide welcome convenience.

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