Six months into its food-as-medicine push, Instacart joined the White House to unveil new digital products aimed at making it easier to make healthy food choices.
The new tools are designed to help providers steer patients to foods that will help with specific problems, from diabetes to obesity to cancer.
And they also include an industry first: advertising capabilities for fresh produce. "This means, for the first time, produce brands, agricultural boards, and farms have the opportunity to prominently display fresh, weighted produce front and center across retailers' virtual stores on an online grocery platform," it says.
Produce partners already using the tool include Bowery Farming, Sunkist, California Giant Berry Farms, Gotham Greens and Grapes from California.
The San Francisco-based company announced the new tools as part of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, an effort to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030.
The new tools are all aimed at helping providers introduce food-as-medicine efforts at scale.
Those include Fresh Funds, which allow healthcare providers to give patients customizable Instacart stipends, enabling them to purchase nutritious foods on Instacart. Those might include specific ingredients for medically-tailored meal plans, for example. (Patients can also share their purchase history with their provider, to get feedback.)
Another new product is Care Carts, which lets providers send custom grocery deliveries directly to patients. Instacart says this innovation will also let providers track program effectiveness.
Tje company's Virtual Storefronts are now available throughout the U.S. These encourage providers to educate patients to make healthier choices. People can browse these curated shops and order items directly from their favorite local retailer for same-day delivery.
The new products are all designed to work with existing tools, including Shoppable Recipes and Lists for Nutrition.
"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," said Sarah Mastrorocco, vice president and general manager of Instacart Health, in the announcement. "Together, we can help patients and their families take an active role in their health through food."
Roughly 30 million people in the U.S. live in food-insecure households, and about 9 million are children. The company also cites studies that 46% of adults and 56% of children have poor-quality diets.
Boston Children's Hospital is one of the first major health systems to use the new products.
Instacart also announced four further studies, including collaborations with Mount Sinai Hospital; the University of Kentucky; the Food for Health Equity Lab at Stanford Medicine, and the University of California, San Francisco's Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Instacart says it has helped hundreds of stores nationwide accept online EBT SNAP payments since it launched the program in September. It says shoppers have stepped up to its giving challenge, donating "tens of thousands of items to more than 100 food banks."