Jimmy Wright, owner of Wright's Market in Opelika, had the chance to travel to Washington recently and testify before the U.S. Senate's Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry regarding his plans for establishing an online-purchasing version of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
During the hearing, Wright said the majority of questions he received from the committee members were about the online SNAP pilot that is being done through the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Services.
In April 2017, Wright's Market was selected by the USDA as one of 10 retailers nationally to participate in the first phase of its new online SNAP program. Other stores participating in the pilot include national chains Amazon and Walmart.
"The pilot was supposed to start Aug. 1," Wright said. "They had some technology challenges. The USDA is still looking at an early next year roll out."
In his testimony, Wright spoke about plans he would like to implement when the pilot program is launched.
One of his plans is to expand his business' delivery service to rural communities that do not have access to a grocery store.
"They may have a dollar store, but access to fresh food is pretty limited," Wright said. "So we feel like we can use technology to solve some of those issues."
Wright said he is also planning to partner with the East Alabama Medical Center to add a healthcare component to his business' delivery service.
"We partner with a church or maybe there's a community center or some kind of central point that we can take multiple deliveries," Wright said. "You may not be able to get 20 miles to a grocery store, but you can get one mile to a church and allow the healthcare professionals to accompany us into that and do some healthcare screenings and some preventive measures."
Wright said these plans go along with his business' mission of making a positive impact in people's lives.
Beneficial for community
Martha Henk, executive director at the Food Bank of East Alabama, explained how the pilot program would be beneficial for the community.
"We believe it has huge potential for over-coming many of the barriers that low-income people face in trying to feed their families," Henk said. "Making the ordering of food more accessible, increasing access to a wide range of nutritious food, and offering transportation for delivering this food is a huge step forward with the potential of greatly improving lives."
Wright said he sees a huge potential for growth through this pilot program.
We see e-commerce as a way to take the store to people," Wright said. "Our mission statement is to have a positive impact on the lives of people in the community. E-commerce allows us to expand that mission."
For more information on Wright's Market, visit its website at www.wrightsmarkets.com.
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