Amazon announced Tuesday that it is offering a discount on its Prime membership for low-income consumers. According to the company, its goal is to make the online marketplace more accessible.
"We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible," Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon Prime, said in a statement.
Those who qualify for government assistance, like individuals on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or food stamps), can subscribe to Prime for $5.99 a month as opposed to the regular $10.99. Amazon Prime offers users free shipping, as well as unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video.
Not included in the list of perks is access to AmazonFresh, the company's grocery delivery and pickup service, which would seemingly be beneficial to those receiving food stamps. The Los Angeles Times reports that low-income shoppers may still have to shell out an additional $14.99 a month for AmazonFresh membership.
Amazon's announcement only reduces the cost to Prime membership. It does not mean consumers would be able to use food stamps to make purchases on Prime in most regions — not even if they're buying food on the platform.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a two-year pilot program allowing food stamp recipients in certain states (Maryland, New Jersey, and New York) to purchase their groceries online through Amazon. Six other companies are part of the program: FreshDirect, Safeway, ShopRite, Hy-Vee,Inc., Hart's Local Grocers, and Dash's Market.
"Online purchasing is a potential lifeline for SNAP participants living in urban neighborhoods and rural communities where access to healthy food choices can be limited," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a written statement. "We're looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP."