Later this year, customers benefiting from the federal anti-poverty program SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will be able to spend their grocery dollars on Amazon.
But a recent investigationby The Intercept and The New Food Economy shows Amazon itself could be raking in money from the deal, as a large number of Amazon employees benefit from SNAP.
The report says taxpayers support Amazon in many ways, supplementing its low wages by contributing to SNAP benefits that many of its employees use. The company also gets tax breaks from politicians hoping to attract Amazon to cities across the U.S.
“[Amazon employees] have to be on food stamps, and so they’re double dipping,” food writer Corby Kummer said on Boston Public Radio Tuesday. “They’re getting tax subsidies and then they’re able to pay low wages and the taxpayer supports the workers who are getting food stamps.”
In Arizona, for example, one in three Amazon employees uses SNAP.
“Amazon, in its case, demands a lot of tax concessions. They haven’t even announced where their second world headquarters is going to be, but every city, including Boston, is falling over itself to donate tens and tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks and land use,” Kummer said. “Amazon is just joining this list of companies that use taxpayers to subsidize their low wages.”
Amazon is the nation’s largest e-commerce grocer and will benefit from another source of public money when SNAP dollars can buy groceries in the Amazon marketplace later this year.
Food writer Corby Kummer is a restaurant critic, senior editor at The Atlantic, and columnist for The New Republic.