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Food recovery platform adapts to satisfy quarantine needs

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

Food recovery platform adapts in order to meet quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis boosts the probability of food insecurity, the requirement for social isolation can also be making it harder for vulnerable visitors to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an rise in the number of people aiming 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 capable to adapt our extensive food recovery network to perform that.

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 5yrs, we’ve used our eponymous app to develop 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 The network was originally made to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from grocers and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.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 how the pandemic has isolated many of our most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a fresh programme to provide no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations right to households in need, 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 fully gone, the protocol and features will be rolled out in most cities the Food Rescue Hero app serves, having a goal to discharge nationally sometime this coming year.

A model produced for emergencies

We’ve been capable 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 make use of a platform similar to those of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a sizable, distributed network of volunteer drivers. In traditional models of retail food donation, regularly scheduled delivery trucks move food from donors to food pantries; if your truck in time breaks down, lots of the pantries that depend upon it won’t acquire delivery for your 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 opportunity for people to serve others safely of these times.

Because in the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only one percent of accessible rescues. Over days gone by five years, our volunteers have completely finished greater than 90,000 rescues and delivered over 12 million meals to individuals who need them. And today, the best way to than previously are in need.

Thinking away from 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 responded to school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students during these programmes. For many, however, this relief is just not accessible because in 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 over the cracks, we’ve been attempting to bring meals towards the one spot we know kids will get to every 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 a lift to the local economy. The effort, manufactured in collaboration to 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 proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate to the model in school districts throughout the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear of this time, our organisation has seen, not really a dip, but an outburst in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, over 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent increase in new volunteer sign-ups in comparison to a normal month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests business cities to create our app available to assistance with the swell of volunteers who want to be sure that seniors have food. 

Over the past 5 years, our volunteers have finished a lot more than 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to individuals who are required them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, here is the perfect opportunity for website visitors to serve others safely over these times. While maintaining physical distance, individuals are finding new approaches to come together.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero as being a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – with the goodwill of ordinary people that want to produce the planet a tad bit more livable for all of us. In the facial skin of this pandemic, there’s a feeling of helplessness. But there’s still so much we are able to do for each other. Our platform gives people a good way to help their neighbours.

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