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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 provide emergency food to those inside the US suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Here, CEO and Co-Founder Leah Lizarondo gives a review of the organisation’s relief contributions.

Food recovery platform adapts to satisfy quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis increases the risk of food insecurity, the requirement for social isolation can also be so that it is tougher for vulnerable visitors to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an increase in the quantity of people seeking to volunteer of their communities. The challenge is usually to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, continues to be able to 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 days gone by 5 years, we’ve used our eponymous app to construct the world’s largest network of volunteer food delivery drivers – 10,000 strong and growing. The network was originally meant to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from grocery stores and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now the pandemic has isolated a number of our most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a fresh programme to supply no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations directly to households in need, all while following CDC guidelines to ensure 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 like food banks, food pantries and senior agencies. Once the pilot period in Greater Pittsburgh is fully gone, the protocol and features will likely be rolled out in most cities the Food Rescue Hero app serves, which has a goal to produce nationally sometime this season.

A model produced for emergencies

We’ve been able 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 utilize a platform similar to those of ride-sharing companies to coordinate a substantial, 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 reduces, lots of the pantries that be determined by it won’t get their 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 chance of visitors to serve others safely of these times.

Because with the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only one percent of obtainable rescues. Over yesteryear 5 years, our volunteers have completed more than 90,000 rescues and delivered greater than 12 million meals to folks who are required them. And at this time, lots more people than in the past are in need.

Thinking outside the food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters in the 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 in these programmes. For many, however, this relief isn't accessible because of the distance from other homes to pick up sites – some children must walk one hour to obtain lunch. To make certain that these kids don’t fall with the cracks, we’ve been trying to bring meals towards the one spot we know kids could possibly get to each day: their bus for school stop.

On 27 March 2020, Food Rescue Hero distributed 500 meals to bus stops in food insecure and unwalkable neighbourhoods. The meals were prepared by local restaurants, giving a boost on the local economy. The effort, stated in collaboration with local organisations and community members (with support from actor and Pittsburgh area native Michael Keaton), would have been a pilot run. Now that we've got proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate for your model in school districts round 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, 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 off their cities to make our app available to benefit the swell of volunteers who want to be sure that seniors have food. 

Over the past five years, our volunteers have finished more than 90,000 rescues and delivered over 12 million meals to people who are required them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this can be a perfect chance of visitors to serve others safely of these times. While maintaining physical distance, everyone is finding new solutions to get together.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero as being a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – through the goodwill of ordinary those who want to produce the world a little more livable for individuals. In the eye of the pandemic, there’s a feeling of helplessness. But there’s still much we can easily do for each other. Our platform gives people a secure approach to help their neighbours.

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