Amazon will begin offering membership in its prime services at a discount to low-income shoppers on food stamps, the online retailer announced Tuesday.
Amazon Prime membership, which includes free two-day shipping on eligible items, and unlimited streaming of music and TV shows, costs $99 a year, or $10.99 for those who pay month-to-month. Food stamps recipients will be offered the same benefits for $5.99 per month.
Customers will not be able to use their food stamps to purchase Prime membership, as the taxpayer-funded benefits are only good for unprepared food items. The Prime discount is good for 12 months, and customers can re-apply up to four times, CBS News reports.
Prime is typically considered a service for upper-income households. Amazon estimates that 70 percent of households with income greater than $112,000 are Prime members.
The Department of Agriculture selected Amazon earlier this year to roll out a pilot program for using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards online. The pilot program is designed to give more food options to families in urban neighborhoods and rural communities, where access to healthy food choices is perceived as limited. (RELATED: Purchase Groceries With Food Stamps Online Starting As Early As This Summer)
Nationwide enrollment in food stamps, also called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program peaked at 47 million people in 2013, after President Barack Obama allowed states to waive work requirements for the program in qualified counties while the economy recovered. There are still around 43 million people using food stamps, however, according to Department of Agriculture data.
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