Amazon is widening its reach to lower-income families, and has been granted authorization to start delivering groceries to food-stamp recipients.
The online retailer will participate in a pilot program under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The project will begin in the summer as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provided more than $66 billion to help 42 million Americans last year. Amazon will begin trials in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.
The pilot is being administered to determine the viability of using online grocery stores and delivery methods to help assist those with limited shopping options. The USDA believes online retailers like Amazon can help get rid of food deserts, or areas with poor access to wholesome groceries.
For Amazon, it allows the massive retailer to expand into new territory and go after a market traditionally dominated by the likes of Walmart. If all goes well, Amazon could be one of the first to serve both high- and low-income customers.
Amazon will join six other grocery stores to help lead the pilot, including FreshDirect, Safeway, ShopRite, Hy-Vee, Hart’s Local Grocers, and Dash’s Market. If successful, the USDA says it will add additional retailers, and expand its coverage.