Delivery-only grocery stores, like FreshDirect and Amazon Fresh, are all the rage with consumers today—but for many Americans who rely on government assistance to feed their families, these services are out of reach. While $74 billion in funds goes towards providing grocery money to the 46 million Americans reliant on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), it is impossible to use those food stamp credits online. Now, online grocers are coming together to advocate for more flexible food stamp usage.
Gunnar Lovelace and Nick Green, the co-founders and CEOs of Thrive Market, have worked to provide for families in need through their "giving program," which offers a free yearly membership to a low-income family for every paid subscriber to their service. However, Lovelace tells TIME, "we hear from a lot of families in our giving program that they're on food stamps and they can't use the website to its full potential."
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So, the duo decided to band together with fellow online retailers and organizations to fight for this cause. Their goal: to open up SNAP usage online, allowing those who live in "food deserts," where fresh, healthful food isn't readily available, to have expanded access to fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich ingredients. "It was a very natural thing for us to focus on, as part of our investment in making good on our social mission as a business," says Lovelace.