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Food recovery platform adapts in order to meet quarantine needs

Tech nonprofit Food Rescue Hero is employing its 10,000-strong network of volunteer drivers to supply emergency food to people within the US impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Here, CEO and Co-Founder Leah Lizarondo gives a summary of the organisation’s relief contributions.

Food recovery platform adapts in order to meet quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis raises the probability of food insecurity, the need for social isolation can be which makes it tougher for vulnerable people to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an rise in the volume of people trying to volunteer within their communities. The challenge is usually to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, may be capable to adapt our extensive food recovery network to accomplish this.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero can be an international tech nonprofit situated in Pittsburgh plus serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and soon, Vancouver. Over days gone by five years, we’ve used our eponymous app to build the entire world’s largest network of volunteer food delivery drivers – 10,000 strong and growing. The network was originally built 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 brand new programme to provide no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight away to households in need, all while following CDC guidelines to make sure everyone’s safety. An initial pilot run with 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 while using information we gathered to gradually expand the service to thousands more homes.

We’re undertaking this project in partnership with nonprofits like food banks, food pantries and senior agencies. Once the pilot period in Greater Pittsburgh is finished, the protocol and features is going to be rolled out in all of the cities the Food Rescue Hero app serves, which has a goal release a nationally sometime this season.

A model produced for emergencies

We’ve been capable of respond nimbly for this crisis because our network is structured to adapt to emergencies. Focusing on the unique logistical challenges of retail food recovery, we use a platform similar to those of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a large, 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 stops working, lots of the pantries that rely on it won’t acquire delivery with 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, here is the perfect chance for people to serve others safely during these times.

Because from the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only 1 percent of obtainable rescues. Over days gone by five years, our volunteers have completely finished greater than 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to individuals who require them. And right this moment, more and more people than ever are in need of assistance.

Thinking outside of the food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is school children inside free and reduced lunch programme inside our home base of Pittsburgh. Like a great many others nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district responded to school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students in these programmes. For many, however, this relief is just not accessible because in the distance from their homes to get sites – some children would need to walk an hour or so to acquire lunch. To be sure that these kids don’t fall from the cracks, we’ve been working to bring meals to the one spot we know kids could possibly get to each and every day: their chartered bus 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 boost to the local economy. The effort, made in collaboration along with other local organisations and community members (with support from actor and Pittsburgh area native Michael Keaton), would have been a pilot run. Now that we have proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate to the model in class districts round the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear of this time, our organisation has seen, not really a dip, but an increase in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, over 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent rise in new volunteer sign-ups in comparison with a typical month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests off their cities to create our app open to assistance with the swell of volunteers who want to make sure that seniors have food. 

Over earlier times 5yrs, our volunteers have finished more than 90,000 rescues and delivered greater than 12 million meals to people who are required them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is actually the perfect opportunity for visitors to serve others safely over these times. While maintaining physical distance, everyone is finding new approaches to bond.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero like a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – through the goodwill of ordinary individuals who want to make the globe a tad bit more livable for everyone. In the eye of the pandemic, there’s feeling of helplessness. But there’s still a lot we can do per other. Our platform gives people a good approach to help their neighbours.

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