Justice

Amazon and FreshDirect Just Did Something Huge for Low-Income People

Food stamp recipients will soon be able to shop online, a development that could help dismantle some big obstacles for low-income Americans.

According to a press release put out last week, The U.S. Department of Agriculture's new pilot program will allow some participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, to buy groceries online from companies like Amazon, Safeway, and FreshDirect.

The same restrictions on in-store products will also apply to delivery services, and participants will not be able to use their benefits for the delivery fees. SNAP beneficiaries from seven states — Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington — will test the "technical and security challenges" of online grocery shopping starting this summer, before the program can be rolled out for the entire nation.

Some Twitter users implied that program was an unnecessary luxury.

However these tweets miss the point.

The pilot program is a huge move for SNAP participants living in food deserts, which are places where people do not have access to grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables, and those who don't have the transportation or mobility to get to a grocery store.

"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 press release on Thursday. "We're looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP."

Access to healthy food should be a right, not a privilege.

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, August 11, 2016

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, approximately 23.5 million people live in a food desert.

Compounding the issue is the fact that 24 percent of people living below the poverty line — those who are most likely to live in a food desert — don't have a car, making access to grocery stores exceptionally difficult.

RELATED: Who is Really on Food Stamps?