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HHS, Instacart ink deal to expand Food is Medicine initiative

The partnership hopes to improve health equity and reduce diet-related chronic health conditions by increasing access to nutritious food.
By admin
Feb 16, 2024, 11:31 AM

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Instacart, a leading grocery shopping and delivery platform, have announced a partnership that aims to scale food as medicine programs and improve access to healthy food across the country.  

“HHS and Instacart are working together to accelerate food as medicine adoption in various health systems and communities. We are eager to build on this dynamic opportunity and we anticipate powerful outcomes through collaborative action,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement.  

“One of our shared priorities is to engage the public in understanding food is medicine. We seek to help accelerate interventions, and build strategies to expand successful programs to more eligible Americans. The Biden-Harris Administration is using every lever available to drive new innovations in policy, and deliver durable solutions that improve our health.” 

The new partnership is centered around four main objectives: 

  • Enhancing and utilizing research on food as medicine to generate evidence of its impact on health outcomes, cost efficiency, and the best program structures 
  • Discovering strategies for the application of food as medicine within policy and public funding structures 
  • Improving outreach to inform the public about the benefits and available resources of food as medicine initiatives 
  • Guaranteeing that food as medicine efforts benefit a wide range of individuals and communities, emphasizing the importance of health equity 

The collaboration is part of HHS’ Food is Medicine initiative, which aims to alleviate food insecurity and reduce the number of diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. 

In 2020, nearly 15% of U.S. households were considered food insecure at some point, affecting adults and children alike and disproportionately impacting racial and ethnic minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. For instance, in 2021, 20% of Black/African American households and 16% of Hispanic/Latino households experienced food insecurity, compared to 7% of White households, according to the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities. 

Over the last two decades, households of American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) origin have been at least twice as likely as White households to face food insecurity, with rates often surpassing 25% in certain regions.  

Adults with disabilities were found to be three times more prone to experiencing food insecurity in their households, at a rate of 15%, compared to the 5% of adults without disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

The partnership between HHS and Instacart, through the integration of food as medicine programs like produce prescriptions, aims to significantly mitigate the challenges of food insecurity and health disparities. 

Last October, Instacart announced a partnership with Medicare Advantage payer Alignment Healthcare to bring ‘food as medicine’ to seniors. Instacart’s partnerships with Alignment Healthcare and HHS are part of the Instacart Health Initiative, which aims to use technology, research, and advocacy to scale food as medicine programs.  

“At Instacart, we believe in the power of food as medicine, which is why we’re building new technologies, advancing research, and advocating for policies that make it as easy for providers to prescribe food as it is to prescribe medicine,” said Dani Dudeck, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Instacart in a statement.  

“Instacart shares HHS’s unwavering commitment to improving health through the power of food, and we’re proud to launch this public-private partnership with the agency to expand access to nutritious food and improve health outcomes. Together, we can ensure the food as medicine movement reaches every family and community across the country.” 

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