Instacart to implement 'food as medicine' programs

Two new tools seek to continue the work of last year's White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.
cooking at home
Retailers are leaning into the notion of food as medicine. / Photo: Shutterstock

To build upon the work of last year's White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, grocery delivery company Instacart announced two new initiatives Friday aimed to “enhance collaborative care, promote healthy choices and deliver nutritious foods to patients and their families."

At the White House Conference, held in September, it was announced that $8 billion in public and private funds would be committed to reducing diet-related diseases and end hunger by 2030. That's when Instacart debuted its health platform.

The company's suite of Instacart Health tools enables healthcare providers to prescribe food products the same way they would pharmaceutical medications, the company said. These “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. Patients can also use SNAP benefits to complete the order. 

  • Care Carts that enable doctors to send custom grocery deliveries directly to their patients.  

Instacart suggests using the new tools in conjunction with other Instacart programs, such as Virtual Storefronts, which empower customers to visit a curated shop created by their provider and order the recommended items from their local grocer using the delivery service.  

Shoppable Recipes is another program that allows customers to purchase the ingredients needed to make a specific meal with the click of a button, while Instacart’s Lists for Nutrition 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." 

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."  

As retailers lean into the notion of food as medicine—grocery chain Food Lion opened a "food pharmacy" earlier this year—the concept has been gaining steam in noncommercial foodservice for some time.

To promote better nutrition, operations across the country have added food pantries, launched mobile grocery stores, held healthy cooking classes and more. New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently partnered with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to train the city's doctors, dietitians and other healthcare workers on the benefits of so-called lifestyle medicine, which seeks to prevent and treat disease through behavioral changes including a plant-based diet.

A version of this story first appeared on Winsight Grocery Business.



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