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Food recovery platform adapts in order to meet quarantine needs

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

Food recovery platform adapts to satisfy quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis raises the likelihood of food insecurity, the requirement of social isolation is also making it harder for vulnerable individuals to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an increase in the number of people looking to volunteer of their communities. The challenge is always to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, has become capable to adapt our extensive food recovery network to complete just that.

Door-to-door food aid

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 The network was originally made to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from food markets and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now that this pandemic has isolated a number of our most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a fresh programme to deliver no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight to households in need of assistance, all while following CDC guidelines to be sure everyone’s safety. An initial pilot run of the 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 want 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 fully gone, the protocol and features will likely be rolled out in all cities that this Food Rescue Hero app serves, using a goal to release nationally sometime in 2010.

A model produced for emergencies

We’ve been capable to respond nimbly to the current crisis because our network is structured to adapt to emergencies. Focusing on the unique logistical challenges of retail food recovery, we make use of a platform similar to people of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a big, distributed network of volunteer drivers. In traditional models of retail food donation, regularly scheduled delivery trucks move food from donors to food pantries; if your truck in time breaks down, many of the pantries that depend upon it won’t acquire 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 is actually the perfect opportunity for website visitors to serve others safely in these times.

Because from the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing just one percent of accessible rescues. Over yesteryear five-years, our volunteers have completed greater than 90,000 rescues and delivered a lot more than 12 million meals to individuals who are required them. And right now, lots more people than previously are in need.

Thinking outside of the food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters inside the free and reduced lunch programme inside our home base of Pittsburgh. Like many more nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district replied to school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students during these programmes. For many, however, this relief just isn't accessible because of the distance off their homes to get sites – some children would need to walk an hour or so to obtain lunch. To make sure that these kids don’t fall from the cracks, we’ve been fitting in with bring meals to the one spot we realize kids will get to every single 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 made by local restaurants, giving an enhancement 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), was a pilot run. Now that we've proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate for your model in school districts round the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear of this time, our organisation has seen, not just a dip, but a blast at the 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 when compared with a normal month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests business cities to create our app open to assist with the swell of volunteers who want to ensure that seniors have food. 

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

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is the perfect chance for visitors to serve others safely over these times. While maintaining physical distance, individuals are finding new methods to add up.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero being a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – with the goodwill of ordinary people that want to make the entire world more livable for everyone. In the face with this pandemic, there’s a sense of helplessness. But there’s still much we can do for every other. Our platform gives people a safe way to help their neighbours.

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