U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling on Amazon and Walmart to eliminate delivery fees and minimum order requirements for customers using SNAP benefits. As more New Yorkers have turned to grocery delivery services amidst the coronavirus pandemic, additional costs — such as fees and minimum order requirements — have placed additional financial strain on food insecure families. The inability to afford these delivery services forces people to shop in person and potentially expose themselves to the coronavirus. In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Senator Gillibrand joined her Senate colleagues to urge Walmart and Amazon to remove undue financial burden for SNAP recipients, so all Americans can afford groceries and receive them safely.
“The SNAP program provides a critical lifeline for food insecure families, and while Walmart and Amazon have taken the first step in allowing families who rely on SNAP to use their grocery delivery services, it’s crucial that they remove additional financial barriers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “No one should have to worry about affording to feed their families or have to risk their health to get groceries. Eliminating additional costs will make these important delivery services more widely accessible so that seniors and vulnerable New Yorkers can safely keep food on the table throughout this pandemic.”
Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide advocacy and direct service organization based in New York City, said: “Many leading corporations have already donated very generously to anti-hunger organizations across the country. We hope they can also go the extra mile by waiving food delivery fees for the lowest-income Americans. Given that our organization just found in a survey that about four in ten American children are now suffering from hunger, struggling Americans need every bit of assistance they can get.”
The full text of the letter can be found here and below.
President and Chief Executive Officer Walmart
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, A 72716
Chief Executive Officer Amazon
410 Terry Ave. North
Seattle, Washington 98109
In light of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic, and the danger that its spread poses to public health, we write to urge your company to eliminate minimum order requirements and delivery fees for Amazon Fresh and Walmart purchases ordered using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefits Transfer (SNAP EBT). This measure will give low-income families in Alabama, Arizona, California, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington the ability to purchase groceries without the burden of spending more than a family can afford in order to limit community exposure to the novel coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened hundreds of thousands of Americans, and has resulted in thousands of deaths. The number of cases in the United States has skyrocketed, affecting nearly every state in the country. As the situation evolves, we must respond by taking actions to mitigate the spread of the virus and the economic consequences of the pandemic felt by families and the vulnerable. As the pandemic has intensified, the importance of social distancing has become clear in stopping the community spread of COVID-19 to maintain public health.
We acknowledge the efforts of Amazon and Walmart in making their grocery delivery services available to families that rely on purchasing groceries with SNAP EBT. Taking into account the advantages that grocery delivery services provided by Amazon and Walmart will provide to aid in social distancing, we ask that Amazon and Walmart eliminate any minimum order requirements or delivery fees for families who rely on SNAP EBT benefits for groceries to make this service more widely available for low-income Americans during this pandemic. This should include reserving a portion of delivery times for SNAP recipients who face additional barriers, including transportation, to accessing food.
No one should have to decide whether to apportion more money on groceries or to risk their public health. The health impact of containing COVID-19 continues to be monitored, but the social and economic impacts of containing the novel coronavirus can be addressed by large companies such as yours taking commonsense action.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.