Following a Historic White House Conference, Charting the Path Forward on Hunger, Nutrition and Health
Late last month, the White House rallied the country around a new national strategy to end hunger, improve nutrition, and reduce the incidence of diet-related diseases across the country. Addressing the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in more than 50 years, President Biden called on the public and private sectors to work together through innovation, research and public policy to drive real and lasting solutions to these challenges.
At Instacart, we’re stepping up to answer that call.
We were honored to participate in the Conference and collaborate with the White House on the launch of Instacart Health, a sweeping new initiative to deliver the ingredients for healthy living. As part of that launch, we have released the Instacart Health Policy Agenda, laying out our top three health policy priorities and newly expanded advocacy commitments to help ensure everyone can access the nutritious food they need to live healthy lives. Through this agenda, we’re committing to advocate for real and lasting policy changes that help address these longstanding challenges.
Modernizing Key Government Programs
Our first agenda priority is modernizing food assistance programs to increase equitable access to nutritious food. Government food assistance programs help more than 48 million people put nutritious food on the table — and technology can help them be more effective and impactful.
As outlined in the agenda, Instacart will advocate for policies that expand online access to SNAP and TANF, extend eligibility for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and remove barriers that will help bring WIC online. We’ll also be calling on states to reduce or eliminate sales taxes on groceries and other essentials (still in place in 10 states) to help bring down the cost of food and supplies that families need most.
“In our goal to end hunger, it is imperative to have corporate leaders in the conversation,” said Eric Mitchell, Executive Director of the Alliance to End Hunger. “Instacart’s commitment to advocate for food security and nutrition policies and programs can serve as a model for our continued collective action to build a nation free from hunger.”
In addition to our policy advocacy, we will be using our platform, products and partnerships to help expand access to these important programs. With Instacart Health, we announced our goal to expand EBT SNAP to all 50 states in 2023 and to all Instacart grocery partners by 2030. In 2023, we’re going to further expand access and affordability by allowing customers to shop via Instacart using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, which helps families in need access daily essentials such as diapers, toiletries, and other home goods.
Expanding Access in Underserved Areas
Our second policy priority is to increase the availability of affordable, nutritious food in underserved urban and rural areas. For example, we’ll be advocating for policies that expand reliable broadband access, create incentives to bring more grocery stores to underserved areas, provide sustainable funding for food banks, and provide universal school meal coverage for children.
At the same time, we’re committing to bring 10 million servings of fruits and vegetables to families across the United States over the next three years as part of a partnership with Partnership for a Healthier America. This includes leveraging Instacart’s new Fresh Funds product, which allows any entity — nonprofit, employer, health system, corporation — to fund category-specific food stipends that can be used for specific products (for example, fresh produce). We’re also committing to working with our retail partners to research and test alternative delivery models to enable delivery options for more people living in low-access areas— especially rural communities.
“For far too long, too many people have lacked access to nutritious food because it’s either too far away, too expensive, or both,” said Nancy Roman, President and CEO of Partnership for a Healthier America. “With help from Instacart and their Fresh Funds initiative, we can break down these barriers to ensure everyone–no matter how far away they are from a grocery store–has access to the fruits and vegetables they deserve.”
Scaling Food as Medicine
Our third policy priority as part of the Instacart Health Policy Agenda is to provide equitable access to health-tailored groceries and food prescription programs. For example, we’ll advocate for policies that support produce prescription and medically-tailored meals as part of the healthcare system, expand use of Medicare and Medicaid food-as-medicine programs, and reauthorize USDA’s produce prescription grant programs.
Here, too, we’re also offering new product solutions to compliment our advocacy. Last week, we announced a new product called Care Carts, which gives healthcare providers, caregivers and others the ability to order and send groceries and medical supplies on behalf of someone else — a patient or loved one, for example. Our first partners using Care Carts include digital nutrition coaching platform Good Measures in partnership with WellCare of Kentucky, hospital-at-home solution provider Medically Home, and food solutions and care management platform NourishedRx.
With Instacart Health, we’re also committing to leading further research on to better understand the underlying challenges driving nutrition insecurity and identify new ways to expand access to healthy food.
As part of that, Instacart, No Kid Hungry and the University of Kentucky last week published a new study on the impact of online grocery for families on tight food budgets, including SNAP beneficiaries. The research found that online grocery can help families with low income stretch their food budgets, save time and money, reduce stress and stigma, and adopt healthy shopping habits.
The priorities outlined in the Instacart Health Policy Agenda share several common goals with the national strategy outlined by the White House, which emphasizes improving food access and affordability, integrating nutrition and health, empowering consumers to make healthy choices, and enhancing nutrition security research. Our agenda also reflects years of close partnership with local officials and community leaders to better understand and address the underlying challenges that drive hunger and nutrition insecurity across the country.
“Succeeding in the fight against hunger and food insecurity requires an entire network of partners working together,” New Jersey Assemblymember and Speaker of the House Craig J. Coughlin said. “Instacart’s initiative is a true example of how private-sector partners can work in stride with community organizations and government to better fill need gaps and to provide more equitable access to food in underserved regions of New Jersey.”
Rhonda Fields, Colorado State Senator (2nd) noted: “Access to healthy, affordable meals is something every Coloradan should have. That’s why I’m excited to see Instacart launch their Instacart Health initiative because they see the value in access but also in education that will arm people with the knowledge to make healthy choices.”
At Instacart, our mission is to give everyone access to the food they love and more time to enjoy it together. This work is a direct extension of that mission, and we’re committed to using our platform, our resources and our advocacy voice to make measurable and lasting progress on these priorities.
We also know we can’t do it alone. We’re grateful to all of who have partnered with us to help shape Instacart Health (hear from many additional local officials, partners and experts), and we look forward to working with elected officials, advocacy leaders, nonprofits, researchers, and other stakeholders who share our commitment to addressing these challenges.
Together, we can ensure everyone has access to the nutritious food they need to live healthy lives.
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