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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 those in the US relying on 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 increases the likelihood of food insecurity, the requirement for social isolation is additionally making it tougher for vulnerable individuals to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an rise in the amount of people aiming to volunteer within their communities. The challenge would be to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, has become capable of adapt our extensive food recovery network to accomplish this.

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 very soon, 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 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 offer no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight to households in need of assistance, all while following CDC guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. An initial pilot run of 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 like food banks, food pantries and senior agencies. Once the pilot period in Greater Pittsburgh is completed, the protocol and features will likely be rolled out in every cities how the Food Rescue Hero app serves, with a goal release a nationally sometime this coming year.

A model produced for emergencies

We’ve been capable of respond nimbly to the current 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 the people of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a substantial, 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 breaks down, many of the pantries that rely on it won’t obtain delivery with the 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 potential 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 obtainable rescues. Over days gone by 5yrs, our volunteers have completed greater than 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to individuals who are required them. And right now, the best way to than previously are in need of assistance.

Thinking beyond your food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is young children within the free and reduced lunch programme in our home base of Pittsburgh. Like a great many 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 not accessible because in the distance from other homes to get sites – some children will have to walk one hour to obtain lunch. To ensure that these kids don’t fall through the cracks, we’ve been fitting in with bring meals towards the one spot we understand kids will get to every 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 an enhancement on the local economy. The effort, stated in collaboration with other local organisations and community members (sufficient reason for 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 in class districts throughout the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear with this time, our organisation has seen, not really 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 in comparison with a typical month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests off their cities to generate our app open to assistance with the swell of volunteers who want to make certain that seniors have food. 

Over earlier times 5 years, our volunteers have completed more than 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to folks who require them.

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

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero as a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – through the goodwill of ordinary people that want to generate the entire world a tad bit more livable for individuals. In the facial skin on this pandemic, there’s a sense of helplessness. But there’s still much we can easily do for each and every other. Our platform gives people a safe way to help their neighbours.

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