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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 supply emergency food to people in the US suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Here, CEO and Co-Founder Leah Lizarondo gives a review of the organisation’s relief contributions.

Food recovery platform adapts to meet quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis enhances the risk of food insecurity, the requirement of social isolation is also so that it is more difficult for vulnerable visitors to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an increase in the quantity of people trying to volunteer inside their communities. The challenge is usually to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, has become in a position to adapt our extensive food recovery network to accomplish this.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero is an international tech nonprofit based in Pittsburgh as well as 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 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 that the pandemic has isolated quite a few most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a new programme to supply no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight away to households in need of assistance, 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 while using the information we gathered to gradually expand the intend to thousands more homes.

We’re undertaking this project in partnership with nonprofits for example 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 every cities the Food Rescue Hero app serves, having a goal to discharge nationally sometime this season.

A model developed for emergencies

We’ve been able to respond nimbly for this crisis because our network is structured to adapt to emergencies. Focusing on the logistical challenges of retail food recovery, we use a platform similar to the people 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 the truck breaks down, many of the pantries that depend on it won’t get their 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 is actually the perfect potential for website visitors to serve others safely of these times.

Because of the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only 1 percent of obtainable rescues. Over days gone by 5yrs, our volunteers have completed a lot more than 90,000 rescues and delivered greater than 12 million meals to folks who need them. And right this moment, more and more people than in the past are in need of assistance.

Thinking beyond your food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is school children inside free and reduced lunch programme within our home base of Pittsburgh. Like many others 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 with the distance from other homes to grab sites – some children must walk an hour or so to acquire lunch. To ensure that these kids don’t fall from the cracks, we’ve been attempting to bring meals to the one spot we realize kids can get to each day: their school bus 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 towards the local economy. The effort, made in collaboration with other local organisations and community members (sufficient reason for support from actor and Pittsburgh area native Michael Keaton), would be a pilot run. Now that we've proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate for that model in college 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, more 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 from other cities to make our app available to help with the swell of volunteers who want to make sure that seniors have food. 

Over yesteryear five years, our volunteers have completely finished greater than 90,000 rescues and delivered greater than 12 million meals to folks who require them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is the perfect chance of visitors to serve others safely over these times. While maintaining physical distance, folks 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 – through the goodwill of ordinary people that want to create the entire world a tad bit more livable for all of us. In the face of the pandemic, there’s a sense helplessness. But there’s still a lot we could do per other. Our platform gives people a safe strategy to help their neighbours.

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