David J. Phillip / AP
Walmart expands a program that allows you to pick up and order foods in more than 2,500 places.
It is the recent move of a major retailer to provide more low-income buyers with more options for using stamps in the modern era of online shopping. Walmart, one of the world's largest retailers, began directing the use of food stamps for online grocery pickup service in 2017 in a few places.
Separately, Walmart, Amazon and ShopRite offer New York customers the opportunity to make online purchases of food stamps and deliver them.
In this case, buyers living in qualifying areas do not need to physically drive to the store to retrieve the items they purchased. However, they have to pay the delivery fees out of their own pocket.
The US Department of Agriculture launched this program in April as a two-year pilot project for those on food stamps, the program also known as the SNAP or Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program.
Everyone on food stamps has a bank card called an EBT card, supported by the government. The program allows customers to pay with their card online, just like a debit or credit card.
At Walmart, online shopping with food stamps is available throughout the New York state. For Amazon and ShopRite, the service is only available to those who live in New York City. In the coming months, the program is expected to expand into several states, including Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.
Molly Blakeman, Walmart spokesman, said the company's goal is to enable families to use food stamps to make online purchases in their homes, wherever they live.
"While we are waiting to roll it out, we can do the transactions on curbside through SNAP at pickup," she said.
Last week, Amazon spread benefits to low-income customers, enabling customers to register their credit card or get their own cash-transferable card at most convenience stores. In 2017, the company began offering Amazon Prime membership at a reduced price for state aid recipients.
The reaction to Amazon's new programs has been mixed. The credit card is available to people with bad credit or no credit at all, and offers 5% cash back on purchases. However, interest rates are higher than the average of credit cards, according to The Washington Post.
Walmart and Amazon have increasingly moved into each other's turf. As Amazon aims to expand its customer base into low-income communities, Walmart rolls out services designed to attract more prosperous customers. Last year, Walmart introduced Jetblack, a personal invitation service in New York. Walmart has also offered higher brands at Walmart.com.
Editor's Note: Amazon and Walmart are among NPR's sponsors.