Instacart Is Offering a High-Tech Alternative to Traditional Food Drives

Its new Community Carts feature also allows you to optimize your giving to meet local needs.

November 29, 2022

Community-Carts-Instacart-App

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Instacart

Photo courtesy of Instacart

For those of us who have enough to share, donating groceries and household essentials to food drives at our local school, place of worship or other community hub may feel like an especially meaningful part of the holiday season — a way to help others who may not have as much as we do and make a difference in our communities and beyond.

But even as we lug cans of beans and boxes of pasta to the food drive, another thought may creep in: Is this the food someone needs most? And if not, what is needed? Am I doing it right? Am I doing enough?

Into that uncertainty comes Instacart. The grocery-delivery company has just announced a new Instacart App feature — Community Carts — that provides a high-tech alternative to traditional food drives and helps you pinpoint the groceries food banks need most.

Launching on Giving Tuesday and extending through the holiday season (November 29 through December 31), Community Carts allows you to engage in “crowdsourced cart building for good” by donating groceries to upwards of 100 local Feeding America member food banks across the country. Instacart is waiving delivery and service fees on every donation order. Plus, through December 4, it’s offering to match — dollar for dollar — the amount you spend on donated food on Community Cart, ultimately donating up to $100,000 of its own to Feeding America.

“One of the most impactful ways Instacart can help fight nutrition insecurity is by using our technology and scale to empower the community for good,” Asha Sharma, chief operating officer at Instacart, says in a press release. "We know that many people want to give food during the holidays, but may not know what their local food bank needs or how to get it to them. With the launch of Community Carts, we’re making it possible for millions of people to make food donations this holiday season with just a few taps, taking the guesswork out of how, what and where to donate. Through Community Carts, together we can make an outsized impact in communities nationwide facing hunger.”

To participate in the technically driven, targeted food drive, just open the Instacart App or go to instacart.com and tap the Community Carts banners. Then you can pick a participating food bank and select the items you’d like to give from the food bank’s personalized wish list, based on which groceries the local community needs most.

Your Community Cart will be customized to include your local food bank’s particular needs and reflect their operational requirements. Frequently requested items include canned goods, whole grains, nut butters, cooking oils and paper products.

Once you place your food bank order, Instacart shoppers will do the grocery-lugging for you (as they always do), delivering the items you’ve selected directly to your chosen local food bank, in accordance with their specific donation guidelines. The Instacart App will also give you a chance to share information about your donation on messaging or social media apps, so you can spread the spirit of giving and encourage your family and friends to donate via the Community Cart feature, too.

“Whether people donate just a few cans of food or a whole cart, donations will add up quickly as customers come together nationwide between Giving Tuesday and December 31 to contribute to Community Carts,” Instacart notes.

According to USDA statistics cited by Instacart, across the United States, almost 34 million people, more than 9 million of them children, lack access to nutritious food. As food prices rise, Feeding America says many of its member food banks are experiencing increased demand for food assistance.

“Over the past four years, Instacart has helped to provide millions of meals to Feeding America member food banks, and we’re proud to continue our partnership with the launch of Community Carts,” says Lauren Biedron, vice president of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. “By partnering with member food banks, Instacart is unlocking innovation and scale for community giving, with food going to people who need it most this holiday season.”

The Community Carts feature, which is launching as part of the Instacart Health initiative’s move to “increase nutrition security among communities most in need,” is available now on the Instacart App for iOS and is coming soon on Android. More information about it can be found here.

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