Uber Eats will start accepting food stamps and healthcare benefits as payment for grocery delivery orders, the company announced Wednesday. It also plans to add a new AI assistant that it says will help grocery customers get better deals.
Anyone with a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which disburses funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), will be eligible to use their funds to pay for grocery delivery through Uber Eats starting in 2024.
The app will also accept FSA (flexible spending accounts) cards and flex cards that are issued through healthcare programs like Medicaid’s Managed Care and Medicare Advantage plans. The move comes as Uber’s post-pandemic pivot to food delivery continues to bear fruit, reaching almost $11 billion in revenue in 2022, compared to over $8.3 billion in revenue in 2021 and $3.9 billion in revenue in 2020.
“We know that online food delivery can have a meaningful impact in reducing barriers to fresh groceries, especially for the most vulnerable–including people living in food deserts, seniors, and those facing disabilities or transportation barriers,” Therese Lim, senior director of product at Uber Eats, said in a blog post.
According to Uber spokesperson Leah Seay, the company plans to share information about merchant locations and availability closer to the launch date in 2024. But Uber is building a product that can be rolled out across all 50 states, she added.
The company plans to share information about merchant locations and availability closer to the launch date in 2024
Uber is not the first delivery app company to accept food stamps; Instacart and grocery outlet Aldi partnered on a pilot three years ago, and Instacart now accepts food stamps in all 50 states. Most delivery platform apps aren’t equipped to accept food stamps as a universal form of payment. Walmart accepts SNAP in some states when picking up an online order, some Kroger locations accept SNAP payment for curbside pickups of online orders, and Amazon Prime lets users register their SNAP cards for online food purchases in most states.
SNAP is the biggest food assistance program in the US, but relief efforts to make the program more accessible that were enacted during the pandemic have since been phased out. On average, 41.2 million people in 21.6 million households received monthly SNAP benefits in the 2022 fiscal year, according to the Pew Research Center.
Uber claims to be the first company to accept healthcare benefit payments for grocery delivery. About 40 percent of the private workforce has access to FSAs, according to the best government data available. Notably, SNAP and healthcare benefits cannot be used to purchase food takeout from restaurants through Uber Eats.
Uber is also launching a new AI chatbot that it says will help “make it easy for consumers to meal plan, find sales on grocery items, and quickly order ingredients for their favorite recipes while sticking to a budget.” The new “conversational” AI assistant will launch later this year, the company says.
Lastly, Uber is adding a new feature to its app called “Sales Aisle” where customers can find a curated list of the promotions and deals in their area. Think of it like a coupon book for your Uber app.