Cutbacks in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, this past spring has retailers offering discounted subscription costs for households seeing reduced benefits.
A recent report from Circana estimates SNAP households are receiving $23 billion less since March. SNAP households have also decreased spending on non-food items at over three times the rate of their spending on food and beverages, the report states. This is a reversal from their spending in the early stages of the pandemic when COVID-related benefits, including SNAP benefit enhancements, provided more money for these households.
Walmart recently offered SNAP households a 50% discount off of its subscription program. This follows a similar move by Amazon in April, just one month after the benefits were reduced by 35% on average for SNAP households. Walmart+ will cost SNAP households $49 annually or $6.48 monthly. Amazon’s Prime membership costs SNAP households $6.99 monthly, a savings of $8 over the normal price. Amazon and Walmart also gives the discount to households receiving Medicaid, SSI, Woman, Infant, and Children (WIC) and National School Lunch Program.
Walmart said its new program is available to all eligible new and existing Walmart+ members. Existing members who quality and sign up will receive a prorated refund and the price will start immediately. Amazon Prime and Walmart+ each have other perks such as steaming entertainment, and free delivery for online orders.
Walmart and Amazon have previously been involved in efforts to make online products and services more accessible to customers participating in government assistance programs. They participated in a pilot allowing consumers who receive SNAP benefits to purchase groceries online for home delivery.