Amazon expands food stamp benefits for online groceries to Washington state

SNAP beneficiaries in Seattle can use benefits to order groceries from Amazon.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients in the Seattle area, can now use their benefits to place online grocery orders from retailers including Amazon.

Amazon announced Wednesday that it has expanded its participation in the USDA's SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot to the Pacific Northwest after it first rolled out in New York last April.

"This is the first time that hundreds of thousands of SNAP recipients in Washington can redeem their grocery benefits online," Amazon said in its corporate blog. "Amazon enthusiastically volunteered to work with the USDA and participate in this landmark pilot because we believe in the goals of this program and its potential to significantly extend the value of SNAP benefits."

"People who receive SNAP benefits should have the opportunity to shop for food the same way more and more Americans shop for food -- by ordering and paying for groceries online. As technology advances, it is important for SNAP to advance too, so we can ensure the same shopping options are available for both non-SNAP and SNAP recipients," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a statement emailed to ABC News.

Just like in New York, Amazon Fresh and Pantry will be available to Washington SNAP recipients who can use their SNAP EBT as a payment method without a Prime membership and will receive free shipping.

"Amazon’s selection, competitive pricing, and home delivery can improve the grocery shopping experience for SNAP participants, while also helping them extend their benefits further," the online retailer continued.

The company also stated that Amazon "believes the program will dramatically increase access to food for more remote customers and help to mitigate the public health crisis of food deserts."

The USDA online purchasing pilot program is currently available in both New York and the Seattle area, but Amazon said it will look to expand beyond those areas in 2020. The USDA will eventually expand to parts of Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Oregon, according to a statement from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. The goal, the agency said, is to eventually have online shopping become an option for all SNAP recipients.

Amazon has more information about the benefits and program on its website.