White House endorses UK’s Food as Health Alliance, Instacart partnership

UK's Food as Health Alliance has teamed up with Instacart for a Grocery Prescription Program. Photo courtesy of Instacart.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 24, 2023) In a White House statement today, it was announced that leading grocery technology company Instacart will partner with the University of Kentucky’s Food as Health Alliance to analyze the benefits of using food as medicine. The Grocery Prescription Program will utilize the Instacart Fresh Funds program to provide participants $50 each week to purchase eligible food items meeting Diabetes Plate or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH).

This is not the first partnership between the UK program and Instacart. According to Alison Gustafson, Ph.D., director of the Food as Health Alliance and professor at UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, they previously teamed up with Instacart for online grocery shopping intervention among lower income households, aiming to improve dietary intake.

“We’re now expanding this partnership to include how to deliver a grocery prescription program for those most in need,” Gustafson said. “This industry partnership is a key ingredient in our food as health programming which brings together agricultural, health care, industry food and nutrition.”

Initially, the program will focus on women diagnosed with gestational diabetes or Type 2 diabetes who are pregnant and Medicaid adults with hypertension. There are plans to expand the program in the future based on the results.

Gustafson’s aim is to find the best approaches for screening and referral steps for future use of Instacart among health care providers and health insurance.

“At Instacart, we believe every family should have access to the nutritious food they need to live healthy lives,” said Sarah Fleisch Fink, Instacart’s director of policy research and development. “We’re excited to partner with the University of Kentucky’s Food as Health Alliance on this research to better understand the role food can play in preventative care and its impact on individual health."

This pilot program is still in the planning stages. Participants are expected to be chosen soon, for a launch this summer.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.