In 2019, Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) launched a pilot project in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency that administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, more popularly known as food stamps. Through the government's "SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot," residents of 10 U.S. states would be permitted to use food stamps to pay for groceries purchased from Amazon online.

More precisely, participants will use SNAP electronic benefits transfer payments (SNAP EBT), which are loaded onto debit cards, to make their purchases -- which is a big plus since you can't make purchases with physical cash, or certificates, online.

Bag full of groceries sitting on a laptop keyboard

Image source: Getty Images.

Now, this program is being fast-tracked to become a "nearly national program" covering 36 states and the District of Columbia:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Through this expanded program, some 90% of all households eligible for SNAP benefits will be able to use those benefits to shop for groceries on Amazon.com "and other participating retailers." Within Amazon's platform, participants can use food stamps to shop on Amazon Grocery, Amazon Pantry, and Amazon Fresh as well.

To ensure that items will ship free, Amazon is even waiving the requirement of a Prime membership, which ordinarily costs $119 per year, for free Amazon Fresh shipping for SNAP participants.

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