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Food recovery platform adapts to fulfill quarantine needs

Tech nonprofit Food Rescue Hero is using its 10,000-strong network of volunteer drivers to provide emergency food to people within the US influenced by the coronavirus pandemic. Here, CEO and Co-Founder Leah Lizarondo gives an introduction to the organisation’s relief contributions.

Food recovery platform adapts to satisfy quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis enhances the chance of food insecurity, the requirement of social isolation is additionally rendering it harder for vulnerable individuals to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an boost in the number of people looking to volunteer of their communities. The challenge is usually to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, has been able to 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 and in addition serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and very soon, Vancouver. Over earlier times 5 years, we’ve used our eponymous app to develop the planet’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 grocers and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now the pandemic has isolated a number of most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a fresh programme to supply no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations directly to households in need of assistance, all while following CDC guidelines to make certain 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 while using 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 done, the protocol and features will likely be rolled out in every cities that this Food Rescue Hero app serves, using a goal to produce nationally sometime in 2010.

A model built for emergencies

We’ve been in a position 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 work with a platform similar to people of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a sizable, 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 stops working, most of the pantries that depend on it won’t acquire delivery to the day. With the Food Rescue Hero network, however, a back-up driver is only a push notification away. 

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

Because of the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only 1 percent of obtainable rescues. Over yesteryear five years, our volunteers have finished over 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to individuals who need them. And right this moment, the best way to than previously are in need of assistance.

Thinking outside of the food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters inside free and reduced lunch programme within our home base of Pittsburgh. Like many more 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 is not accessible because in the distance from their homes to grab sites – some children would need to walk one hour to obtain lunch. To make sure that these kids don’t fall through the cracks, we’ve been attempting to bring meals towards the one spot we realize kids can get to each and 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 to 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 be a pilot run. Now that we've got proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate for the model at school districts throughout the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear on this time, our organisation has seen, not a dip, but an outburst in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, more than 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent rise in new volunteer sign-ups in comparison to a typical month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests off their cities to create our app offered to help with the swell of volunteers who want to ensure that seniors have food. 

Over days gone by five-years, our volunteers have completely finished a lot more than 90,000 rescues and delivered greater than 12 million meals to the people who require them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this can be a perfect opportunity for individuals to serve others safely in these times. While maintaining physical distance, individuals are finding new solutions to get together.

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 individuals who want to create the world a tad bit more livable for people. In the facial skin on this pandemic, there’s feeling of helplessness. But there’s still so much we could do for each and every other. Our platform gives people a safe strategy to help their neighbours.

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