Food Stamps Are on Their Way to Going Digital, Finally

Food Stamps Are on Their Way to Going Digital, Finally

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Liz Lian
Sep 19, 2016
(Image credit: arek_malang/Shutterstock)

Currently, people entitled to SNAP benefits (commonly referred to as food stamps) can only be used at brick-and-mortar stores and other physical locations such as farmers markets that accept EBT cards. The thing is, a lot of the people who use SNAP live in food deserts, which makes it difficult to get to these designated spots. The USDA defines a "food desert," or "low-access community," as a location with at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the population who reside more than one mile away (10 miles for more rural areas) from a supermarket or large grocery store. All this might change soon, though, as the USDA prepares to pilot a two-year online SNAP program.

After receiving pressure from Senator Cory Booker and Reps. Tim Ryan and Barbara Lee, as well as a group of online retailers led by Thrive Market, the USDA announced last Thursday that its pilot program would launch next summer. The pilot program will partner with five retailers in three states and will hopefully expand access to nutritious food items to low- and no-income Americans.

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