BENTONVILLE, Ark.—In the wake of COVID-19, retailers across the world have been working hard to eliminate as much physical contact required by their associates and customers, and big-name suppliers are no exception. Not only have companies like Amazon and Walmart been working to secure contactless checkout, but they are considering ways to accommodate all forms of payment, including those provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
In June 2019, Walmart launched a pay at pickup option that allows families using SNAP benefits to use its grocery pickup service. This week, the company announced it was expanding its test to use SNAP for online purchases for pickup customers. Walmart is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the online payment for SNAP, which is now available in Alabama, Arizona, California, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Washington.
“Through the pilot, customers can complete EBT payments during online checkout instead of at the point of pickup. This eliminates all physical contact between associates and customers who want to use their SNAP benefits. Customers can also use EBT payment during online checkout when they choose the delivery option, where deliveries are available,” the company said on its website.
Food-assistance recipients in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Washington are now able to use their benefits to order groceries online from Amazon, as well as other participating retailers, and have them delivered directly to their door, thanks to a pilot program launched with the USDA. Amazon plans to expand the program to more states soon.
“Amazon enthusiastically volunteered to work with the USDA and participate in this landmark pilot because we believe in the goals of this program and its potential to significantly extend the value of SNAP benefits. In addition to enabling SNAP EBT as a payment method, Amazon has made Amazon Fresh available to SNAP recipients in select states without a Prime membership, with free shipping available on Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry,” wrote Kristina Herrmann, a director leading Amazon’s participation in the USDA’s Online Purchasing Pilot, in a company blog post.