The program rolled out April 18 in New York and will expand to include the states of Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

Under a two-year pilot program in the works since the 2014 Farm Bill authorized it, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants in the state of New York can now buy food online using the electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards issued by the state.

The online shopping program launched yesterday for SNAP shoppers on Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000), and Walmart Inc. (No. 3), says the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which runs the SNAP program.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized USDA to conduct and evaluate a pilot for online purchasing prior to national implementation. FNS selected seven of the current eight pilot retailers in 2017 and later expanded the list to include Walmart. By law, benefits cannot be used to pay for fees of any type, such as delivery, service or convenience fees.

The “farm bill” is a multi-year piece of federal legislation—renewed roughly every four or five years—that deals with programs related to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most funding goes to food subsidies for low-income households.

The ShopRite chain (No. 565), owned by Wakefern Food Corp. Inc., is scheduled to join next week. ShopRite and Amazon will serve SNAP participants in the New York City area, while Walmart provides the service to upstate New York locations, FNS says. 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, FNS says.

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In addition to Amazon, Walmart and ShopRite, the program also includes Dash’s Market, FreshDirect LLC (No. 91), Hy-Vee Inc., Safeway (a unit of Albertsons Inc., No. 200) and Wright’s Markets Inc.

FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. The agency also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provides science-based nutrition recommendations and serves as the cornerstone of the federal nutrition policy.

SNAP, also known as the Food Stamps program, provides food assistance to 38.1 million Americans in 19.2 million households. SNAP is administered by the states, which can adapt the program to best meet the needs of their residents. Participants receive benefits mainly monthly through EBT cards.

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