Using food stamps for online groceries just got easier

Walmart is expanding a program that picks up and pays for online grocery orders with food stamps at more than 2,500 locations.

It’s the latest move from a major retailer to give low-income shoppers more options for using food stamps in the modern age of online shopping. Walmart, one of the largest retailers in the world,began piloting the use of food stamps for online grocery pickup service in 2017 in a few locations.

Additionally, Walmart, Amazon, and ShopRite offer shoppers in the New York area the ability to shop online with food stamps and have them delivered.

In this case, shoppers who live in eligible areas do not have to physically travel to the store to pick up the items they purchased. However, they have to pay the delivery costs out of pocket.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched the program in April as a two-year pilot for those on food stamps, the program also known as SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Everyone on food stamps has a government-backed bank card called an EBT card. The program allows customers to pay with their card online, just like a debit or credit card.

At Walmart, online shopping using food stamps is available throughout New York State. For Amazon and ShopRite, the service is only available to those who live in New York. In the coming months, the program is expected to expand to other states, including Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

Walmart spokeswoman Molly Blakeman said the company’s goal is to give families the ability to use food stamps to shop online at home, no matter where they live.

“While we wait to roll this out, we are able to perform curbside transactions via SNAP during pickup,” she said.

Amazon last week rolled out benefits for low-income shoppers, allowing customers to register their credit card or get a separate card that they can top up with cash at most convenience stores. In 2017, the company started offering Amazon Prime subscriptions at a reduced rate for recipients of public aid.

Reaction to Amazon’s new programs has been mixed. The credit card is available for people with bad credit or no credit at all and offers 5% cash back on purchases. However, the interest rate is higher than that of an average credit card, according to the Washington Post.

Walmart and Amazon are increasingly moving into each other’s territory. As Amazon aims to expand its customer base in lower-income communities, Walmart is rolling out services designed to attract more affluent customers. Last year, Walmart introduced Jetblack, an invitation-only personalized shopping service in New York City. Walmart also offers premium brands on

Editor’s note: Amazon and Walmart are among NPR’s sponsors.

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