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Food recovery platform adapts to meet quarantine needs

Tech nonprofit Food Rescue Hero is applying its 10,000-strong network of volunteer drivers to deliver emergency food to prospects in the US suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Here, CEO and Co-Founder Leah Lizarondo gives an overview of the organisation’s relief contributions.

Food recovery platform adapts in order to meet quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis increases the likelihood of food insecurity, the necessity for social isolation is also making it more difficult for vulnerable individuals to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an increase in the amount of people trying to volunteer within their communities. The challenge would be to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, continues to be capable to adapt our extensive food recovery network to complete this.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero is an international tech nonprofit situated in Pittsburgh and in addition serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and very quickly, Vancouver. Over earlier times five years, we’ve used our eponymous app to create the planet’s largest network of volunteer food delivery drivers – 10,000 strong and growing. The network was originally meant to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from supermarkets and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now the pandemic has isolated a number of our most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a new programme to provide no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations right to households in need, all while following CDC guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. An initial pilot run of this door-to-door programme delivered emergency food to 175 households in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny and Beaver Counties in late March, and we’re now with all the information we gathered to gradually expand the plan to thousands more homes.

We’re undertaking this project in partnership with nonprofits such as food banks, food pantries and senior agencies. Once the pilot period in Greater Pittsburgh is finished, the protocol and features will probably be rolled out in most cities the Food Rescue Hero app serves, having a goal to release nationally sometime in 2010.

A model built for emergencies

We’ve been able to respond nimbly to the current crisis because our network is structured to adapt to emergencies. Focusing on the logistical challenges of retail food recovery, we work with a platform similar to people of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a substantial, distributed network of volunteer drivers. In traditional styles of retail food donation, regularly scheduled delivery trucks move food from donors to food pantries; if the truck reduces, lots of the pantries that depend upon it won’t manage to get thier delivery to the day. With the Food Rescue Hero network, however, a back-up driver is simply push notification away. 

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this can be a perfect chance of visitors to serve others safely over these times.

Because from the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only one percent of accessible rescues. Over yesteryear five-years, our volunteers have completely finished greater than 90,000 rescues and delivered a lot more than 12 million meals to individuals who are required them. And today, the best way to than in the past are short of funds.

Thinking beyond your food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is school children inside the free and reduced lunch programme inside our home base of Pittsburgh. Like many others nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district taken care of immediately school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students over these programmes. For many, however, this relief just isn't accessible because in the distance off their homes to pick up sites – some children would need to walk an hour to have lunch. To ensure that these kids don’t fall over the cracks, we’ve been fitting in with bring meals on the one spot we all know kids will get to each and every day: their bus for school stop.

On 27 March 2020, Food Rescue Hero distributed 500 meals to bus stops in food insecure and unwalkable neighbourhoods. The meals were prepared by local restaurants, giving a good start for the local economy. The effort, manufactured in collaboration with other local organisations and community members (along with support from actor and Pittsburgh area native Michael Keaton), would have been a pilot run. Now that we've got proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate for the model in college districts throughout the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear on this time, our organisation has seen, not a dip, but a surge in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, more than 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent surge in new volunteer sign-ups in comparison with a typical month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests off their cities to produce our app accessible to assistance with the swell of volunteers who want to ensure that seniors have food. 

Over yesteryear five years, our volunteers have finished over 90,000 rescues and delivered a lot more than 12 million meals to the people who require them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is actually the perfect chance of website visitors to serve others safely over these times. While maintaining physical distance, individuals are finding new ways to get together.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero being a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – by the goodwill of ordinary people who want to generate the entire world a tad bit more livable for everyone. In the eye on this pandemic, there’s feeling of helplessness. But there’s still a great deal we could do for every other. Our platform gives people a secure way to help their neighbours.

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