Merkley announces expansion of online food assistance pilot program to Oregon

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley announced Tuesday the expansion of a pilot program that will allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients in Oregon to use their benefits to purchase food online from Amazon and Walmart. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Merkley serves as the top Democrat on the funding subcommittee that oversees USDA.

“For hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, SNAP benefits are the difference between being able to afford food or going to bed hungry,” said Merkley. “But between coordinating transportation, working multiple jobs, and staying home to take care of loved ones, accessing a grocery store can be a big challenge, especially given the lack of full-service grocery stores in so many lower income neighborhoods. This pilot program will test an innovative way to overcome that problem, so we help more families keep food on their tables.”

Oregon is the twelfth hungriest state in America, with over 600,000 SNAP recipients and countless food deserts—urban areas where residents have to travel over a mile to access a grocery store, or rural areas where residents have to travel over 10 miles — many of which are located in low-income and rural communities.

FNS’s pilot program, which is designed to test the feasibility of nationwide online SNAP transactions, was launched in April 2019 in New York.