South Carolina city partners with Instacart to improve residents’ food access

One hundred and ten residents living in food deserts will receive complimentary Instacart+ memberships and small stipends to offset delivery costs.
bag with food
(Getty Images)

Columbia, South Carolina, is partnering with Instacart to launch a Grocery Access Pilot program in an effort to improve access to nutritious food for those living in the community’s food deserts.

More than 65,000 residents in Richland County, South Carolina – where Columbia is located – need more equitable food access and face barriers of access, affordability, availability and transportation, according to a 2020 report conducted by the city’s food policy committee. 

“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 Columbia 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.”

Through the pilot project, 110 residents living in food deserts will receive complimentary Instacart+ memberships and year-long $5 monthly stipends through Instacart’s Healthy Fresh Funds program. The combination of the membership and stipends are designed to help cover the cost of online grocery delivery. Instacart is also planning to create a virtual storefront to help educate and encourage nutritious shopping choices.


In coordination with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, Instacart last year launched Instacart Health, an initiative to use its technology, partnerships and research to expand access to nutritious food across the country. The pilot project in South Carolina is its first partnership with a city government. 

“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 and 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.”

Columbia residents can prove they live in a food desert with the program’s GIS eligibility verification tool and apply for the program online.

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