The USDA announced seven retail firms selected to take part in a pilot program designed to enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase groceries online. The two-year pilot is scheduled to begin in the summer.

"Online purchasing is a potential lifeline for SNAP participants in urban neighborhoods and rural communities where access to healthy food choices can be limited," USDA secretary Tom Vilsack says. "We're looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP."

The firms selected represent a variety of store types, including national online retailers as well as large grocery chains and smaller, regional networks to appropriately test online SNAP purchasing in different settings. Pilots will take place in seven states in both rural and urban areas, marking the next critical step in bringing the online purchasing option to SNAP clients.

While USDA has authorized SNAP online grocery ordering in a few locations, this pilot will test both online ordering and payment. Online payment presents technical and security challenges that will need to be examined and fully addressed before it is offered nationwide. As with the core program, SNAP participants will only be able to use their benefits to purchase eligible items online – not to pay for service or delivery charges. USDA is committed to maintaining the security of SNAP benefits for both the protection of SNAP participant accounts and to prevent and detect trafficking, so SNAP online purchases must have a higher level of security than most other online purchases.

The firms selected for the pilot are:

  • 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
  • Dash's Market — New York