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Sen. Jeff Merkley announces new pilot program for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program users with an Oregon Trail card like this one can now order groceries online via Walmart and Amazon.Food stamps can now deliver something new — groceries, ordered online and schlepped straight to your front door.

As of March 4, Oregon recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, may purchase groceries over the internet and request delivery to their homes.

The catch? SNAP can't be used to pay courier fees, so food stamp users will still be on the hook for delivery costs and any other surcharges added by the retailer.

The online food assistance pilot program only works with Amazon and Walmart for now. To use the new feature, simply enter your Oregon Trail card number and PIN during check-out.

The new option is being tested here by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, and could be rolled out nationwide at a later point.

"Accessing a grocery store can be a big challenge," Merkley says, "especially given the lack of full-service grocery stores in so many lower income neighborhoods."

Merkley hopes the service will help alleviate Oregon's countless urban and rural food deserts — areas where the closest thing to a grocery store is a gas station deli. The program should also be useful for those who are busy with work and childcare — living with disabilities — or just trying to save time.

Will either company actually deliver to where you live? It depends.

An Amazon blog post says the service is only available in "select regions" of Oregon, though a PR rep for the company promises that "we've expanded our coverage to the entire state of Oregon."

Walmart didn't respond to a request for comment, but local customers tell the Tribune that food stamp delivery is only available within a seven-mile radius of two locations, one in Portland and the other in Grants Pass.

COVID-19 is another complicating factor, causing outages, delays or canceled orders for both retailers. In other words, your mileage may vary.

Merkley notes that Oregon is the nation's 12th hungriest state, with more than 600,000 people enrolled in SNAP.

"For hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, SNAP benefits are the difference between being able to afford food or going to bed hungry," he said.


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