Internet-based retail giant Amazon is among seven online food retailers to soon start accepting food stamps, as part of a pilot programme that had been instituted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The two-year programme is due to be introduced this summer for online ordering and payment testing.
According to the USDA, which oversaw the $74-billion food stamp programme, also known as SNAP or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, it would to expand the online programme nationwide and eventually add more retailers.
Safeway, ShopRite, Hy-Vee, Hart's Local Grocers, and Dash's Market, would be among the retailers and would serve food stamps recipients in seven states - Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Iowa, and Oregon.
However, Amazon is by far the largest online food distributor participating in the federal government's new programme.
''Amazon is excited to participate in the USDA SNAP online purchasing pilot,'' the Seattle, Washington-based company said in a press release. ''We are committed to making food accessible through online grocery shopping, offering all customers the lowest prices possible.''
Government watchdog groups had for years demanded tighter regulations as food stamp fraud remained a common and costly problem.
The USDA, which seemed to be aware of the risks for fraud, said, ''online payment presents technical and security challenges that will need to be examined and fully addressed before it is offered nationwide.''
Meanwhile, according to commentators, Amazon had for a long time targeted shoppers who could afford a $99 Prime subscription. The recent announcement that that it would allow food stamps from customers ordering and paying for groceries online showed Amazon also wanted to appeal to lower-income shoppers, traditionally Wal-Mart's customers.
Amazon would kick off the experiment this summer in New York, New Jersey and Maryland.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), had last year provided over $66?billion of help to 44.2?million needy Americans.