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Food recovery platform adapts in order to meet quarantine needs

Tech nonprofit Food Rescue Hero is applying its 10,000-strong network of volunteer drivers to deliver emergency food to the people in the US impacted by 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 enhances the likelihood of food insecurity, the requirement of social isolation is also rendering it harder for vulnerable people to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an increase in the volume of people looking to volunteer inside their communities. The challenge is usually to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, has been capable to adapt our extensive food recovery network to complete that.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero is surely an international tech nonprofit situated in Pittsburgh plus serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and shortly, Vancouver. Over days gone by five-years, 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 designed to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from supermarkets and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now how the pandemic has isolated a number of most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a new programme to provide no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight away 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 want 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 is going to be rolled out in every cities that the Food Rescue Hero app serves, with a goal to discharge nationally sometime this coming year.

A model developed for emergencies

We’ve been capable to respond nimbly to the present crisis because our network is structured to adapt to emergencies. Focusing on the unique logistical challenges of retail food recovery, we work with a platform similar to the people of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a big, distributed network of volunteer drivers. In traditional models of retail food donation, regularly scheduled delivery trucks move food from donors to food pantries; if the truck reduces, lots of the pantries that depend upon it won’t manage to get thier delivery for that 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 actually the perfect potential for website visitors to serve others safely in these times.

Because with the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing merely one percent of obtainable rescues. Over the past 5yrs, our volunteers have completed over 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to people who need them. And at this time, more and more people than in the past are short of funds.

Thinking outside the food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters within the 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 just isn't accessible because from the distance from other homes to pick up sites – some children must walk an hour or so to get lunch. To make sure that these kids don’t fall from the cracks, we’ve been working to bring meals towards the one spot we realize kids could 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, produced in collaboration along with other local organisations and community members (and 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 the model in college districts round the country.

People helping people

Amidst the uncertainty and fear on this time, our organisation has seen, not only 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 boost in new volunteer sign-ups in comparison with the average month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests using their company cities to generate our app available to help with the swell of volunteers who want to be sure that seniors have food. 

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

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is the perfect potential for website visitors to serve others safely of these times. While maintaining physical distance, individuals are finding new approaches to bond.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero being a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – with the goodwill of ordinary individuals who want to generate the planet a bit more livable for people. In the face area on this pandemic, there’s feeling of helplessness. But there’s still a great deal we can easily do for each other. Our platform gives people a safe method to help their neighbours.

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