The Department of Agriculture is set to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit recipients to buy groceries online in a two-year pilot program beginning today in New York.

Recipients will be able to purchase food from a trio of retailers — Amazon and Walmart beginning today, ShopRite joining early next week — using SNAP funds. Purchases can be made for grocery delivery, but SNAP funds cannot be used to pay the delivery fees charged by the retailers.

In a statement, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said the pilot reflects a natural evolution of the program.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The project was authorized in the 2014 farm bill, which called for a pilot project for online purchasing before national implementation. According to a USDA release, the pilot will eventually expand to seven other states — Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington — and other interested retailers.

“USDA anticipates all eligible and interested retailers who can meet the requirements to process online SNAP transactions will eventually be able to take part, though the timeline is dependent on the progress of the pilot and any regulations which may need to be issued,” the release said.

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