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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 offer emergency food to prospects in 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 meet quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis raises the probability of food insecurity, the requirement for social isolation is also rendering it more difficult for vulnerable website visitors to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an surge in the amount of people aiming to volunteer of their communities. The challenge is to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, may be capable of adapt our extensive food recovery network to do this.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero is an international tech nonprofit operating out of Pittsburgh as well as serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and shortly, Vancouver. Over yesteryear 5yrs, we’ve used our eponymous app to construct the globe’s largest network of volunteer food delivery drivers – 10,000 strong and growing. The network was originally designed to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from supermarkets and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now that this pandemic has isolated a number of our most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a brand new programme to deliver no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight to households in need of assistance, all while following CDC guidelines to make 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 completed, the protocol and features will probably be rolled out in all cities the Food Rescue Hero app serves, having a goal to produce nationally sometime this year.

A model developed for emergencies

We’ve been capable of respond nimbly for this crisis because our network is structured to adapt to emergencies. Focusing on the unique logistical challenges of retail food recovery, we use a platform similar to people of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a large, 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, a lot of the pantries that rely on it won’t get their delivery for that 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 is actually the perfect chance of people to serve others safely during these times.

Because from the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing merely one percent of obtainable rescues. Over the past five-years, our volunteers have finished over 90,000 rescues and delivered over 12 million meals to the people who require them. And right this moment, more people than ever are in need.

Thinking away from food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters inside the free and reduced lunch programme inside our home base of Pittsburgh. Like many others nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district responded to 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 with the distance from other homes to grab sites – some children would have to walk 1 hour to have lunch. To make certain that these kids don’t fall over the cracks, we’ve been trying to bring meals towards the one spot we all know kids could possibly get to every single 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 served by local restaurants, giving a good start to the local economy. The effort, made in collaboration with local organisations and community members (with support from actor and Pittsburgh area native Michael Keaton), was a pilot run. Now that we've got proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate for that model in school 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 blast at the in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, more than 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent boost in new volunteer sign-ups compared to an average month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests from other cities to generate our app available to help with the swell of volunteers who want to make sure that seniors have food. 

Over yesteryear five years, our volunteers have finished a lot more than 90,000 rescues and delivered a lot more than 12 million meals to folks who require them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, here is the perfect chance for individuals to serve others safely of these times. While maintaining physical distance, individuals are finding new solutions to get together.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero like a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – with the goodwill of ordinary those who want to make the planet a little more livable for everyone. 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 good strategy to help their neighbours.

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