Instacart, nonprofit partner to expand fresh produce stipend for families in 4 cities

Instacart and Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), a nonprofit focused on improving health equity through food access, announced they will scale their Good Food for All program in four additional cities this year.

The program will provide Fresh Funds, which is a stipend for use on produce on, to more than 1,100 families total across Denver, Englewood, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C. In each city, Instacart and PHA will give families $60 a month to spend on fruits and vegetables.

The announcement advances Instacart and PHA’s joint commitment to deliver 10 million servings of fruits and vegetables to underserved communities by 2025. 

“PHA launched its Good Food for All program because we believe that everyone—no matter their zip code—deserves healthy food, yet far too many families across the country are lacking access to it,” Noreen Springstead, president and CEO of PHA, said in a press release. 

The expansion builds on the success of the partners' collaboration in Indianapolis, which launched earlier this year. It aimed to offer free grocery delivery on orders over $35, a monthly stipend for fresh fruits and vegetables and to test the feasibility of a produce credit model.

In the first phase of the Indianapolis program, families received pre-packed boxes with about 50 servings of produce weekly for 10 weeks. In the second phase, families were given $50 in produce credits per month, redeemable through either a brick-and-mortar store credit or online through Fresh Funds, for three months.

Results released Thursday showed that the produce credits supported significant improvements in food security for families, including control around the nutrition of food and flexibility to support unique food preferences. The program also found 80% of participants preferred produce credits over produce boxes, and 79% of those with credits planned to continue eating more produce. More than three-quarters also said credits helped their family build a healthy habit.

Instacart participants had significantly higher satisfaction scores than those who received brick-and-mortar store credit, per the results. Many noted they favored the selection and choice available on the Instacart marketplace. Families that got Fresh Funds were also more than 10 times more likely to use all their funds during the duration of the program.

Fresh Funds allows any organization—nonprofits, employers, insurance companies or health systems—to add money to someone’s account. PHA was the first to use the tool to expand its nutrition access and incentive program.

“Through our partnership with PHA, we’re transforming food access, and empowering families to get fresh produce delivered from the local grocers they know and love,” Dani Dudeck, chief corporate affairs officer at Instacart, said in a press release. 

“When it comes to improving food equity, it’s not just about providing people access to healthy food in the short term, but creating lasting, sustainable healthy eating habits,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in the announcement. “That’s why this partnership with PHA and Instacart is so promising; we’re having a real, long-term impact on people’s health and overall quality of life.”

Today, Instacart offers online SNAP acceptance from more than 120 retail banners across more than 10,000 stores, reaching nearly 95% of households enrolled in SNAP, the company says. In 2022, it partnered with primary care provider ChenMed, insurtech company The Helper Bees and software provider Levels Health to provide healthy recipes and shopping lists and allow caregivers to purchase food for others. 

There are several other startups in the healthcare space aimed at combating food insecurity, including the service FarmboxRx, which partners with Medicaid and Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to enable beneficiaries to get healthy food. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has expanded the benefits that MA plans can offer, including new benefits for food insecurity. The number of MA plans that offer such benefits has increased in recent years.