The USDA has changed its policy with an online shopping pilot proving popular with SNAP benefit users.
The retail giants, Amazon and Walmart, have been the main beneficiaries of a change in the policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA recently began a pilot scheme across 46 states providing access to online grocery shopping for those using SNAP benefits, often referred to as food stamps. The COVID-19 pandemic led to financial difficulties for many American households who have been forced to look for assistance in the form of SNAP benefits. More than 22 million households are reported to receive SNAP benefits in 2020 as a result of the problems facing the U.S. economy.Read More »
The USDA has been trying to ensure the development of the SNAP system allows as many Americans to not struggle to feed their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rising numbers of families applying for SNAP benefits for food have risen sharply leading to an increase in the benefits on offer to families. This rise has been developed to match a five percent increase in the cost of living associated with the spread of COVID-19.
The financial difficulties seen across the U.S. and the wider world are just one of the issues facing the public as the spread of the virus continues unchecked. Wednesday saw a record number of new infections pushing over 150,000 as the virus continues to sweep the nation and most of Europe. The measures taken by the U.S. Government have been mixed with portions of Europe already entering strict lockdowns not seen since the Spring. The U.S. Government has been under pressure to introduce stricter rules to help control the spread of the virus.
In total, the U.S. has seen over 10 million cases of COVID-19 with the controversy over face coverings not helping control the spread of the virus. Costco introduced a new policy for those exempt from using face coverings who wish to enter their stores with a face shield now needed to enter these members-only stores.
The rise in the use of delivery and pickup services from Amazon and Walmart is just one of the ways the public is trying to avoid close contact with others in the COVID-19 era. The need for social distancing in grocery stores is just one of the reasons why pickup and delivery services have become so popular across the U.S. With more than 1.1 million SNAP benefit users already using the grocery shopping services of Amazon and Walmart, the use of delivery and pickup services should expand across the nation.
Amazon has already decided to create a trial for a new grocery store in New York City that will not permit customers to enter. Instead, the store will focus solely on providing a speedy delivery service using the web-based retailer’s Prime service to purchase and deliver groceries.
Despite the trial of the online shopping options at Amazon and Walmart being approved by the USDA in 46 states across the nation, customers using SNAP benefits will have to pay for some products and additional fees. Delivery costs are not included in SNAP use and only approved grocery products can be purchased using SNAP benefits.
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