- Instacart announced on Tuesday it has started offering its Instacart+ membership at a discount to SNAP participants.
- Starting Tuesday, people who have used EBT SNAP benefits to buy groceries through Instacart in the past six months are eligible to purchase a year-long subscription to Instacart+ for $4.99 per month — half off the regular cost. The membership unlocks free delivery and pickup on orders over $35, a 5% credit on pickup orders and reduced service fees.
- Instacart is positioning the new discount as a way to help people conveniently access healthy food in the face of persistent inflation.
Instacart claims that it can reach 95% of the more than 30 million people in the U.S. who are experiencing nutrition insecurity through its retail partners that accept SNAP online payments. Roughly 10% of U.S. households faced food insecurity during 2021, according to USDA data cited by Instacart, which noted that high food prices are continuing to exacerbate affordability issues.
“Instacart’s discounted membership for SNAP recipients is one solution that can help more food-insecure families tap into the many benefits of online grocery – including saving time, managing their budgets, and reducing transportation barriers,” Courtney Smith, senior vice president of program research, innovation and impact at No Kid Hungry, said in the announcement.
Instacart and No Kid Hungry teamed up with the University of Kentucky to explore how grocery e-commerce can benefit SNAP participants and low-income households. In a recent report, the trio noted that shopping online can help people manage their spending while avoiding obstacles they may face in traveling to a grocery store and the stigma that can accompany using nutrition benefits in public.
Since the start of the pandemic, SNAP online shopping has picked up considerably — with the number of households that used SNAP benefits to make at least one online order nearly doubling since the start of 2021. Meanwhile, the number of households participating in SNAP has remained elevated since a surge in early 2020. Roughly 3.5 million SNAP households bought groceries online in August, according to USDA data.
The rise of both online shopping and SNAP households, along with expanded government approval for retailers to offer SNAP online payments, has prompted a bevy of grocers and retailers to roll out SNAP e-commerce.
Instacart in June unveiled Instacart+ as its new subscription service to replace Instacart Express. Instacart+ debuted several family shopping features including shared carts and accounts, and benefits specifically for Chase cardholders.
The discounted membership program s linked with Instacart Health’s work to make it easier for people to access healthier foods. Instacart announced Instacart Health in September as several major grocers and technology providers made new goals and unveiled new initiatives to tackle health hunger to coincide with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.
In November, Instacart announced three new food-as-medicine partners — medical, management and technology company ChenMed; insurance technology company The Helper Bees; and software firm Levels Health — to help make medically-tailored nutrition advice more of a reality.