May 6, 2019

Amazon Not Prepared to Serve Kosher Food Stamp Clients, Expert Says

Brooklyn…The recent announcement by Amazon and the USDA that Amazon would participate in a new government pilot program in New York to accept some EBT cards may not be of benefit to customers who are kosher, according to Alexander Rappaport, Executive Director of Masbia, a network of kosher soup kitchens in New York. In a letter to Amazon, Mr. Rappaport pointed out that in a kosher community like Boro Park, “there are about 50 kosher stores, from local convenience to large Whole Foods-style kosher supermarkets.” He adds: “This does not include other stand-alone places such as bakeries, butchers, fruit/vegetable stands and fishmongers who take EBT/SNAP as well. One thing the overwhelming majority of them have in common is that they all deliver with no additional charge with only a few hours turnaround time. Some simply deliver your items for you after having rung you up in person, some take phone and e-mail orders, and a few even have a full website to order from.”

Mr. Rappaport pointed out that in addition to the high level of service, the EBT/SNAP clients also require specific kosher brands that they trust, in terms of kosher certification. “Most of those products have yet to make it onto Amazon and those that are sold are with a high premium…While most shelf-stable food can be added to Amazon at some point, dairy and fresh baked goods will need to be added to Amazon Fresh. The same goes for meat, fish, and poultry.”

The Amazon pilot program includes zip codes in New York City. Wal-Mart had previously also launched a pilot program but required that the products be picked at a store rather than fulfilled on-line.