Zooey Deschanel's New App Pays You to Shop Better-For-You Brands: It's 'So Important to Me'

The Celebrity Dating Game host star is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of a new app called Merryfield, PEOPLE can exclusively announce

Zooey Deschanel
Photo: Sergio Necoechea

Zooey Deschanel's latest venture is another step on her journey towards helping everyone lead healthier, more sustainable lives — and this time, it literally pays to join her!

The New Girl star, 41, is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of a new app called Merryfield, PEOPLE can exclusively announce. Designed to incentivize shoppers to buy better-for-you food and lifestyle brands — like Beyond Meat, Honest Company, Califia Farms, Justin's, Ecos and more — users earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards to popular stores.

"For people who don't know, I've been very involved in trying to improve access to healthy food, and improve information availability for people who are looking to make healthier choices all around," Deschanel tells PEOPLE, explaining that Merryfield is a natural extension to her work as the co-founder of The Farm Project, an organization dedicated to helping people ask questions about their food, and Lettuce Grow, a hydroponic garden company for growing food at home.

"People want access to better, healthier products, but it's just out of reach for a lot of people," she says, adding that many think clean products are too expensive, too inconvenient, or aren't sold where they shop. "We want it to be in reach for everybody."

With her Merryfield, app users can find a list of brands that are dedicated to both the personal health of consumers and the health of the planet. Most importantly, they can be found at retailers nationwide, not just in special stores.

courtesy Merryfield

You can shop products from those brands wherever, whenever; simply take a picture of your receipt to upload to the app (or connect your online account for your favorite retailer directly in the app) and you'll get points that go towards gift cards for Target, Sephora, Amazon, Hotels.com, Starbucks and many more.

Certain products have bonus points attached as well, so you can earn gift cards even quicker.

"A rewards program gamifying healthy eating is a great way to help people make healthier choices," says Deschanel, who is currently dating Property Brothers star, Jonathan Scott. "You want people to be able to vote with their dollars through these companies, and so I think it's all about improving access to information."

courtesy Merryfield

The mother of two — she shares son Charlie Wolf, 3, and daughter Elsie Otter, 5, with ex-husband Jacob Pechenik — says becoming a mom is what made her realize how important it is to be conscious of what you consume, and how challenging it can be to get accurate information about different products.

"It was really when I had kids that I started paying a lot of attention to what I ate and used and it felt like... What I was doing felt hard," she admits. "I'd ask so many questions about our food. I'd have to go to special places, and it felt harder than it should be."

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She wanted to take what she had learned and make it accessible to others who didn't necessarily have the same time or easy access she enjoys, she says.

"I felt like I had the privilege to be able to shop at Whole Foods and go to the farmer's market. I had the time and the access and the resources to be able to do that. But I was like, not everybody can. And it really felt unfair to me," she explains. "I was like, I don't want to be in the elite group of people that buy these products. I don't want these to be specialty products."

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock.

"I think healthy food should be a basic human right," she continues, noting that Merryfield also donates one percent of their revenue to the non-profit No Kid Hungry, whose mission is to end childhood hunger.

"That is something that is so important to me," she says. "As a mother, and just as a person."

Merryfield can be downloaded for free on the app store now. An Android version will be available in fall 2021.

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