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Food recovery platform adapts in order to meet quarantine needs

Tech nonprofit Food Rescue Hero is employing its 10,000-strong network of volunteer drivers to offer emergency food to the people inside 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 meet quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis increases the probability of food insecurity, the requirement for social isolation can also be so that it is more difficult for vulnerable individuals to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an boost in the number of people looking to volunteer within their communities. The challenge is to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, continues to be in a position to adapt our extensive food recovery network to perform this.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero can be an international tech nonprofit located in Pittsburgh and in addition serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and very soon, Vancouver. Over the past 5 years, we’ve used our eponymous app to build the globe’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 The network was originally made to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from grocers and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now the pandemic has isolated quite a few most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a whole new programme to deliver no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight to households short of funds, all while following CDC guidelines to make sure 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 while 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 finished, the protocol and features is going to be rolled out in most cities that this Food Rescue Hero app serves, which has a goal release a nationally sometime this season.

A model developed for emergencies

We’ve been in a position to 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 make use of a platform similar to those of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a large, distributed network of volunteer drivers. In traditional models of retail food donation, regularly scheduled delivery trucks move food from donors to food pantries; if a truck in time breaks down, most of the pantries that be determined by it won’t obtain delivery to the day. With the Food Rescue Hero network, however, a back-up driver is just a push notification away. 

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is actually the perfect opportunity for visitors to serve others safely of these times.

Because with the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only 1 percent of accessible rescues. Over the past 5 years, our volunteers have completed a lot more than 90,000 rescues and delivered a lot more than 12 million meals to the people who are required them. And today, more and more people than ever before are in need of assistance.

Thinking beyond your food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters inside free and reduced lunch programme inside our home base of Pittsburgh. Like a great many others nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district replied to school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students of these programmes. For many, however, this relief is not accessible because with the distance off their homes to post sites – some children will have to walk one hour to acquire lunch. To make sure that these kids don’t fall from the cracks, we’ve been trying to bring meals towards the one spot we realize kids could get to every single 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 a lift to the local economy. The effort, produced in collaboration with other local organisations and community members (sufficient reason for 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 of the time, our organisation has seen, not only a dip, but an increase in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, a lot more than 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent surge 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 open to benefit the swell of volunteers who want to ensure that seniors have food. 

Over the past five years, our volunteers have completed greater than 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to the people who need 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, individuals are finding new solutions to come together.

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 people who want to create the entire world a tad bit more livable for individuals. In the face area of the pandemic, there’s feeling of helplessness. But there’s still so much we are able to do for every other. Our platform gives people a secure method to help their neighbours.

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