The expansion, announced this morning, makes Instacart the first and only online grocery marketplace to accept SNAP nationwide at more than 120 retail banners and at more than 10,000 stores. It also marks a significant milestone in Instacart’s commitment to modernizing access to food assistance programs and increase equitable access to nutritious food.
The commitment is part of Instacart’s sweeping Health Initiative announced last fall at the White House National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Healthy, which also includes goals to increase the availability of affordable, nutritious food to underserved urban and rural areas and provide equitable access to health-tailored groceries and food prescription programs.
With 42 million Americans relying on SNAP, program beneficiaries represent a significant consumer base. However, retailers are not able to fully tap into the market potential they represent because many populations served by SNAP and other special supplemental programs, like the program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), struggle to use their benefits due to geographic, transportation and physical mobility challenges, Instacart notes in its Health Policy Agenda released last September.
A firm believer that allowing participants to access programs like SNAP and WIC online and leverage their benefits for delivery would promote equitable food access, Instacart worked with the US Department of Agriculture as a pioneer to first bring SNAP online in 2020.
Today’s announcement continues that effort, but does not conclude it.
“We’re proud to have reached this landmark alongside USDA, state agencies and our retail partners across the country, and we look forward to continuing this work to ensure every family can access the food they need to thrive,” Dani Dudeck, chief corporate affairs officer at Instacart, said in a statement.
As such, Instacart has committee to expand EBT SNAP to all its grocery partners by 2030.
‘Grocery delivery can play a powerful role in expanding access to nutrition’
Expanding online access to nutrition and the use of SNAP benefits not only offers more flexibility and convenience, but research also shows it is associated with healthier food selection and purchase, Sarah Mastrorocco, VP and general manager of Instacart Health, added in the announcement.
“We’ve seen first hand that grocery delivery can play a powerful role in expanding access to nutrition – a cornerstone of our mission and Instacart Health initiative,” she said.
A 2021 study in Oklahoma found WIC consumers participating in an online ordering pilot purchased significantly more infant formula, fruits and vegetables. Another study in Baltimore City found nearly half of participants in a virtual supermarket delivery program bought more produce and fewer snacks and desserts when using the virtual supermarket program. Likewise, research by the University of Kentucky, No Kid Hungry and Instacart shows SNAP recipients who grocery shop online purchase more fruits and vegetables than in-store shoppers, without increasing their total grocery bill.
Recognizing SNAP beneficiaries’ limited resources, Instacart offers them a 50% discounted Instacart+ membership, which includes free delivery and pickup on orders over $35, a 5% credit back on pickup orders and reduced service fees on every order.