In an effort to continue the work of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, delivery company Instacart announced two new initiatives Friday to “enhance collaborative care, promote healthy choices and deliver nutritious foods to patients and their families."
The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health was held in September, where it was announced that an $8 billion commitment in public and private funds would be used to reduce diet-related diseases and end hunger by 2030. That is when Instacart debuted its health platform.
The company's new suite of Instacart Health tools enables healthcare providers to prescribe food products in the same way they would pharmaceutical medications, the company said. The so-called “virtual food pharmacies” include:
Fresh Funds, which allows patients to place Instacart orders from a selection of healthy food items curated by their healthcare provider. It also allows patients to use SNAP benefits to complete the order.
Care Carts that similarly encourage the direction of a healthcare provider while shopping by enabling doctors to send custom grocery deliveries directly to their customers.
Instacart suggests using the new tools in conjunction with other Instacart programs, such as Virtual Storefronts, which empower patients to visit a curated shop created by their provider and then order the recommended items from their local grocer using the delivery service.
Shoppable Recipes is another program that allows shoppers to purchase the ingredients needed to make a specific meal with the click of a button, and Instacart’s Lists for Nutrition program encourages healthcare providers to build and share medically tailored grocery lists.
"With Instacart Health, we have the unique opportunity to partner with providers to expand proven nutrition programs and more deeply integrate food as medicine into standard patient care," said Sarah Mastrorocco, vice president and general manager of Instacart Health, in a statement. "We're proud to offer these products to help providers expand access to nutritious food and make medically tailored groceries and meal advice more actionable."
Instacart noted that Boston Children’s Hospital is among the delivery company’s first partners in Instacart Health. "At Boston Children's Hospital, we're committed to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in pediatric health and addressing our patient health needs holistically," said Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital, in a statement. "Together with Instacart Health, we are excited to explore this technology further to help our providers deliver programs serving patients and families with specific dietary needs. Food and nutrition programs are essential to disease treatment and prevention."
In a separate announcement Friday, Instacart said that in recognition of March's National Nutrition Month, it will allow "produce brands to advertise fresh, weighted items—such as carrots, grapes, onions, oranges, sweet potatoes and watermelons—from the produce department across the Instacart Marketplace.”
"It's essential that consumers have access to fresh, nutritious produce—whether they shop online or in-store," said Ali Miller, vice president of ads product at Instacart. "Online grocery offers a unique experience, helping brands deeply connect with and engage consumers as they explore new products or their usual staples across the digital aisles. With today's launch, millions of consumers will now discover more fresh and nutritious options as they shop on Instacart, leveling the playing field for produce and making sure everything from fresh citrus to sweet potatoes are just as discoverable as packaged goods.”
In addition to produce items, the ad placement opportunity will also be available for items in the meats and cheese departments, as well as nuts and deli products.