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Amazon to assist SNAP users stuck in “food deserts”

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Is there a better way for USDA to allow recipients of $70 billion dollars in Supplemental Nutrition Programs to buy food? What about those who can’t access a local grocery store. Could they order online for home delivery from Amazon Prime?

The 2014 Farm Bill is piloting ten new delivery systems that will allow people utilizing the SNAP program to order food online for home delivery. University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Craig Gundersen says when you look deeper, the program can offer a lot to help those who cannot always help themselves or who simply don’t have easy access to a grocery store. He says this is because there are food deserts in the United States

“I like to think about food deserts in the context of individuals,” Gundersen said. “For example, if somebody is working near a supermarket, they’re probably okay. However, if somebody has a mobility disability, even if there is a grocery store a block away, they may have troubling accessing it. Or, if we think about senior citizens who may be homebound over different dimensions, even if they’re close to a supermarket, they may not be able to access it easily. I think we have to think not in terms of where somebody lives, but the conditions that might prevent them from accessing these stores.”

Gundersen said SNAP recipients stuck in a ‘food desert’ would benefit greatly from the ability to order groceries online with their SNAP cards.

The Amazon Prime program is already in place for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card holders. The discounted Amazon Prime membership, $5.99 per month, cannot be purchased with the card. Food is available to those using USDA’s SNAP, WIC, TANF and other food assistance programs.

A related story can be found at http://bit.ly/2rondCG.

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