Columbia, Instacart announce pilot program

City of Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann and Instacart (NASDAQ: CART), a grocery technology company, came together at the Eau Claire Town Hall on Friday, October 27 to announce the launch of the Grocery Access Pilot (GAP) program to improve access to nutritious food for families in Columbia’s food deserts.

Through the city-funded program, up to 110 residents living in food deserts will receive a complimentary Instacart+ membership and $5/month in Instacart Health Fresh Funds stipends for one year. Together, the membership and monthly stipends are designed to help cover the cost of online grocery delivery, including providing access to free delivery for participating residents on all orders over $35. This will allow individuals and families living in low-income, low-food-access communities to more easily get the nutritious food and other essentials they need delivered directly to their door.

In addition, working in close collaboration with Mayor Rickenmann’s team, Instacart will create a virtual storefront to help educate and encourage nutritious shopping choices.

“As we look at longstanding, complex issues in Columbia, like food insecurity, we must consider how we can utilize innovative technology and creative partnerships to really make an impact,” said Mayor Daniel Rickenmann.

“The city has been working to combat food insecurity for years, so I am excited to try something new. We found a way to get groceries straight to the communities that have low-access without limiting choice and I look forward to seeing how this partnership with Instacart reduces barriers in Columbia.”

The program is part of Mayor Rickenmann’s commitment to combating food insecurity. Residents within the city limits can verify they live in a defined food desert with the program’s GIS Eligibility Verification Tool and apply for the GAP program at

According to a 2020 report conducted by the city’s Food Policy Committee, more than 65,000 Richland County residents are in need of more equitable food access. Columbia residents face many challenges to accessing nutritious food, including affordability, availability and transportation, among others.

“Everyone should have access to nutritious food, and today, technology is breaking down barriers that have historically prevented too many communities from getting the nourishment they need,” said Casey Aden-Wansbury, Instacart’s Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs. “With Instacart Health, we’re working with elected officials and private sector leaders to help expand food access and combat nutrition insecurity for families across the country, including those living in low-access communities and those facing transportation and mobility barriers.”

Instacart partners with more than 1,400 retail banners and more than 80,000 stores across North America. The company is dedicated to expanding access to nutritious foods and is the first grocery marketplace to offer online SNAP acceptance in all 50 states in the U.S. The service is accessible to more than 95 percent of U.S. households, including 93 percent of people living in food deserts.

“We’re proud to partner with Mayor Rickenmann and the City of Columbia to help more Columbia families access and afford the nutritious food and essentials they need,” Aden-Wansbury said. “The GAP program demonstrates how public-private partnerships can help constituents get more access to affordable, nutritious food.”

Instacart launched Instacart Health last year in coordination with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. Through the initiative, Instacart is leveraging its technology, partnerships, research, and policy advocacy to expand access to nutritious food, inspire sustainable healthy choices, and scale food as medicine programs across the country. The GAP program is the first Instacart Health partnership with a city government, exemplifying how the private and public sector can work together to address nutrition insecurity.

Photo: Mayor Daniel Rickenmann and Casey Aden-Wasnbury, Instacart’s Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs.

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