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Food recovery platform adapts to fulfill quarantine needs

Tech nonprofit Food Rescue Hero is utilizing its 10,000-strong network of volunteer drivers to supply emergency food to the people within the 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 fulfill quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis raises the probability of food insecurity, the requirement for social isolation is also making it harder for vulnerable people to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an surge in the quantity of people aiming to volunteer within their communities. The challenge is usually to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, has been capable of adapt our extensive food recovery network to accomplish this.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero is an international tech nonprofit situated in Pittsburgh as well as serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and very quickly, Vancouver. Over earlier times five years, we’ve used our eponymous app to create the world’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 grocers 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 provide no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight 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 while using the information we gathered to gradually expand the service 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 done, the protocol and features is going to be rolled out in all cities that this Food Rescue Hero app serves, which has a goal to release 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 use a platform similar to those of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a substantial, distributed network of volunteer drivers. In traditional kinds of retail food donation, regularly scheduled delivery trucks move food from donors to food pantries; if your truck in time breaks down, most of the pantries that rely on it won’t acquire delivery for that 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 can be a perfect chance for website visitors to serve others safely during these times.

Because from the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only one percent of available rescues. Over days gone by 5 years, our volunteers have completely finished a lot more than 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to individuals who need them. And right now, more people than ever before are short of funds.

Thinking beyond your food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is young children inside free and reduced lunch programme in our home base of Pittsburgh. Like numerous others nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district taken care of immediately school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students over these programmes. For many, however, this relief is just not accessible because of the distance using their homes to pick up sites – some children must walk an hour to obtain lunch. To make sure that these kids don’t fall through the cracks, we’ve been trying to bring meals to the one spot we realize kids could 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 prepared by local restaurants, giving a lift on the local economy. The effort, manufactured in collaboration with other local organisations and community members (and 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 at school districts round the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear on this time, our organisation has seen, not a dip, but a surge in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, greater than 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent surge in new volunteer sign-ups in comparison to a typical month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests off their cities to generate our app available to assistance with the swell of volunteers who want to be sure that seniors have food. 

Over the past five-years, our volunteers have completed more than 90,000 rescues and delivered a lot more than 12 million meals to the people who are required them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is actually the perfect chance of individuals to serve others safely in these times. While maintaining physical distance, folks are finding new methods to come together.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero as a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – with the goodwill of ordinary those who want to produce the planet a bit more livable for all of us. In the face area of this pandemic, there’s a sense of helplessness. But there’s still a great deal we can do for every other. Our platform gives people a secure way to help their neighbours.

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