Starting next week, food stamp recipients in New Jersey will be able to use their benefits to buy groceries online, including from Amazon, in a move designed to help people stay at home during the pandemic.

The online grocery shopping for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 13 new states, for a total of 36 states and the District of Columbia, which are home to more than 90% of the nation's food stamp users.

New Jersey has 356,000 households with 700,000 of the neediest residents using food stamps.

In New Jersey, SNAP users will be able to use their cards to order from Amazon starting May 27. Online orders with SNAP through Walmart, ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer begin May 28.

The benefits can only be used to purchase eligible groceries and cannot be used to pay for delivery fees.

“Having the option to order groceries online is more important than ever, as we all work together to stay-at-home as much as possible," Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said Wednesday after federal officials announced approval. "We hope that the launch of SNAP online grocery shopping promotes equity by providing participants access to a convenient tool that many New Jerseyans are already using to comply with the stay-at-home order.”

Federal officials said they also are expanding the number of authorized retailers who can process SNAP transactions online.

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