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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 inside US suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Here, CEO and Co-Founder Leah Lizarondo gives an introduction to the organisation’s relief contributions.

Food recovery platform adapts to meet quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis boosts the risk of food insecurity, the necessity for social isolation can also be making it harder for vulnerable visitors to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an rise in the amount of people seeking to volunteer inside their communities. The challenge would be 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 complete exactly that.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero is definitely an international tech nonprofit located in Pittsburgh and also serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and shortly, Vancouver. Over earlier times five years, we’ve used our eponymous app to construct the globe’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 food markets and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now that the pandemic has isolated quite a few most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a brand new programme to supply no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations right to households in need of assistance, all while following CDC guidelines to make certain everyone’s safety. An initial pilot run on 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 using the information we gathered to gradually expand the service to thousands more homes.

We’re undertaking this project in partnership with nonprofits including food banks, food pantries and senior agencies. Once the pilot period in Greater Pittsburgh is done, the protocol and features is going to be rolled out in all cities how the Food Rescue Hero app serves, using a goal to produce nationally sometime this coming year.

A model designed for emergencies

We’ve been able to respond nimbly for this crisis because our network is structured to adapt to emergencies. Focusing on the initial logistical challenges of retail food recovery, we make use of a platform similar to those of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a sizable, distributed network of volunteer drivers. In traditional kinds of retail food donation, regularly scheduled delivery trucks move food from donors to food pantries; if the truck reduces, a lot of the pantries that depend on it won’t obtain delivery for your day. With the Food Rescue Hero network, however, a back-up driver is only a push notification away. 

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is the perfect opportunity for people to serve others safely in these times.

Because with the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing just one percent of obtainable rescues. Over days gone by five-years, our volunteers have finished greater than 90,000 rescues and delivered a lot more than 12 million meals to folks who are required them. And today, more people than ever are in need of assistance.

Thinking beyond your food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is young children in the free and reduced lunch programme in your home base of Pittsburgh. Like many more nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district answered school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students in these programmes. For many, however, this relief just isn't accessible because from the distance from other homes to pick up sites – some children must walk an hour to acquire lunch. To be sure that these kids don’t fall over the cracks, we’ve been working to bring meals on the one spot we all know kids can get to every single 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 served by local restaurants, giving a good start for the local economy. The effort, made in collaboration with local organisations and community members (and 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 at school districts round the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear with this time, our organisation has seen, not a dip, but a surge in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, a lot more than 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent rise in new volunteer sign-ups when compared with a typical month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests using their company cities to create our app open to assistance with the swell of volunteers who want to make certain that seniors have food. 

Over days gone by 5 years, our volunteers have completed over 90,000 rescues and delivered over 12 million meals to individuals who need them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this can be a perfect chance for people to serve others safely of these times. While maintaining physical distance, everyone is finding new ways to come together.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero as a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – from the goodwill of ordinary people who want to produce the world more livable for people. In the facial skin of this pandemic, there’s a sense helplessness. But there’s still a lot we can do per other. Our platform gives people a secure approach to help their neighbours.

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