October 24, 2023

Instacart and Wellness West Announces Partnership with Tackle Food Insecurity on Chicago’s West Side

Wellness West, a coalition of Chicago’s health and safety-net institutions and Instacart, the leading grocery technology company in North America, today announced a new partnership that leverages the scale and convenience of Instacart to help food-insecurity and chronically ill individuals on the West Side of Chicago.

Through the partnership, Wellness West will launch a new “Food Connections” program, which will offer eligible Wellness West members a monthly grocery stipend of $79, delivered through Instacart Health Fresh Funds, that can be used to purchase nutritious foods like fresh and frozen produce for delivery via Instacart. The digital stipend can be combined with other food benefit programs, like SNAP or eligible supplemental health benefits, allowing members to complete their full shop in one order, creating a more convenient and accessible grocery shopping experience.

Wellness West addresses health equity needs of up to 200,000 uninsured and Medicaid-insured patients diagnosed with at least one of six specific medical conditions who live in 10 West Side zip codes. Instacart today reaches more than 95 percent of US households, including 93 percent of food desert residents and nearly 95 percent of households enrolled in SNAP.1

“We are very pleased to be joining forces with Instacart to advance the cause of health equity,” said Misty Drake, Executive Director, Wellness West, who also serves as the Vice President, Client Serves and Growth, for Medical Home Network. “For the communities we serve, a whole person model of care that addresses social factors such as access to healthy food is essential. With this partnership, Instacart’s state-of-the-art consumer-tech platform is brought to the mission of helping people across the West Side who are facing significant barriers to healthy dietary options.”

“Everyone should have reliable access to healthy and nutritious food, but today, far too many communities experience nutrition insecurity. Through Instacart Health, we’re using the power of our technology to bridge the gap and ensure more families can put wholesome foods on their tables,” said Sarah Mastrorocco, Vice President and General Manager of Instacart Health. “We’re proud to partner with Wellness West to help families on the West Side of Chicago overcome barriers to access and get the foods they need to support their health and well-being.”

Food Insecurity: A Worsening Problem for Chicago’s Most Vulnerable
Most people in Chicago facing food insecurity are children, older adults and the poor. Food insecurity can be caused by a job loss, lack of transportation or health issues. Many Chicagoans are only one paycheck away from facing food insecurity.

  • In Chicago metro, 16 percent of households overall and 22 percent of households with children suffer from food insecurity. 29 percent percent of Black households experience food insecurity.2
  • The Food Empowerment Project reports that more than 500,000 Chicago residents live in food deserts with the vast majority of those living on the South and West Sides.3
  • In the last year, Wellness West has completed more than 15,000 Health Risk Assessments of vulnerable populations on the West Side.4
    • 34 percent of those surveyed reported running out of food or were worried about running out of food in the last year for lack of money.5
    • 25 percent reported needing transportation assistance, which is also an important variable to food access.6

Research published by the University of Kentucky, No Kid Hungry and Instacart found that online grocery shopping helps low-income families – including SNAP households – stretch their food budgets, overcome transportation barriers, assist with meal planning and save time and money. The study also found that families that shopped online purchased more fruits and vegetables than in-store shoppers, without increasing their total grocery bill.7

“For too many Chicagoans, choices about what to eat are limited by access and affordability,” said Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. “My administration is committed to advancing innovative solutions and supporting public-private partnerships to address these food inequities. It’s inspiring to see Wellness West and Instacart partnering to address these challenges and ensure more West Side residents can access and afford the nutritious food they deserve.”

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