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Food recovery platform adapts to meet quarantine needs

Tech nonprofit Food Rescue Hero is using its 10,000-strong network of volunteer drivers to deliver emergency food to those inside US relying on 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 chance of food insecurity, the requirement for social isolation is also which makes it more difficult for vulnerable visitors to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an increase in the number of people looking to volunteer in their communities. The challenge is usually to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, may be capable of adapt our extensive food recovery network to do that.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero can be an international tech nonprofit located in Pittsburgh plus serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and soon, Vancouver. Over yesteryear five-years, we’ve used our eponymous app to build the planet’s largest network of volunteer food delivery drivers – 10,000 strong and growing. The network was originally designed to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from grocery stores and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now how the pandemic has isolated a number of our most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a whole new programme to deliver no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight away to households in need, all while following CDC guidelines to be sure 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 with all the information we gathered to gradually expand the intend 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 be rolled out in every cities that this Food Rescue Hero app serves, which has a goal to produce nationally sometime this season.

A model built for emergencies

We’ve been in a position to 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 work with a platform similar to prospects of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a big, distributed network of volunteer drivers. In traditional types of retail food donation, regularly scheduled delivery trucks move food from donors to food pantries; if a truck in time breaks down, a lot of the pantries that rely on it won’t get their delivery for that day. With the Food Rescue Hero network, however, a back-up driver is simply a push notification away. 

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

Because in the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing merely one percent of obtainable rescues. Over days gone by 5 years, our volunteers have completed more than 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to people who need them. And today, more people than in the past are in need.

Thinking outside of the food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters inside free and reduced lunch programme in our home base of Pittsburgh. Like many others nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district responded to school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students during these programmes. For many, however, this relief isn't accessible because in the distance from other homes to get sites – some children would need to walk one hour to have lunch. To be sure that these kids don’t fall over the cracks, we’ve been fitting in with bring meals for the one spot we all know kids will get to every single day: their limo 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 lift on the local economy. The effort, stated in collaboration to local organisations and community members (with support from actor and Pittsburgh area native Michael Keaton), was obviously a pilot run. Now that we now have proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate for the model in college districts around the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear of this time, our organisation has seen, not a dip, but an increase in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, greater than 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent boost in new volunteer sign-ups when compared with a normal month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests off their cities to generate our app available to benefit the swell of volunteers who want to ensure that seniors have food. 

Over earlier times five-years, our volunteers have finished more than 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to folks who are required them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is the perfect chance for people to serve others safely of these times. While maintaining physical distance, folks are finding new methods to bond.

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

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