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The Amazon Prime Food Stamp Discount Is All About Enriching Amazon

By in Huffington Post on June 13, 2017

By Joseph Erbentraut

In an apparent effort to siphon more business from retail competitors, the online ordering giant Amazon is offering discounts to welfare recipients, though experts say it’s unlikely that many will sign up.

Last week, Amazon announced that it would offer membership to its Amazon Prime service — which comes with perks including free expedited shipping and access to its video and music streaming platforms — at a discounted rate of $5.99 per month for active recipients of federal assistance like food stamps.

Most people won’t be able to actually spend benefits online ― at least not yet. But Amazon is likely betting that someday soon, they will. And when that day comes, the corporate giant wants a cut of the action, which is already worth billions to Walmart and other big retailers.

More than 42 million Americans currently receive food stamps, aka Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, which average about $125 a month per person and can be redeemed at grocery stores for most food products. At an annual cost of about $70 billion, alleviating the hunger of America’s poor is a massively profitable enterprise for America’s retailers.

Amazon, along with six other retailers, is already participating in a two-year pilot program in which they will accept SNAP benefits as payment for online grocery orders in three states, so this latest move marks a doubling down on its efforts to vie with competitors like Walmart for lower-income customers. If the pilot program looks promising, online use of benefits could one day be more widely adopted.

The head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP, said online ordering held promise […]    

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