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Food recovery platform adapts to meet quarantine needs

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

Food recovery platform adapts in order to meet quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis boosts the chance of food insecurity, the necessity for social isolation is additionally making it more difficult for vulnerable website visitors to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an boost in the volume of people aiming to volunteer inside their communities. The challenge is 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 perform just that.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero can be an international tech nonprofit based in Pittsburgh and also serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and very quickly, Vancouver. Over earlier times five-years, we’ve used our eponymous app to construct the entire 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 food markets and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now the pandemic has isolated many of our most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a fresh programme to supply no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations directly to households short of funds, 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 plan 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 fully gone, the protocol and features will probably be rolled out in all cities how the Food Rescue Hero app serves, having a goal to discharge nationally sometime this coming year.

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 utilize a platform similar to those 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 reduces, many of the pantries that depend on it won’t manage to get thier delivery with the day. With the Food Rescue Hero network, however, a back-up driver is just a push notification away. 

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this can be a perfect opportunity for website visitors 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 earlier times 5 years, our volunteers have completed over 90,000 rescues and delivered over 12 million meals to the people who need them. And right now, lots more people than in the past are in need of assistance.

Thinking beyond your food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters within the free and reduced lunch programme in your home base of Pittsburgh. Like many others nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district taken care of immediately school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students of these programmes. For many, however, this relief just isn't accessible because of the distance from other homes to get sites – some children would need to walk an hour or so to get lunch. To make sure that these kids don’t fall over the cracks, we’ve been fitting in with bring meals on the one spot we understand kids will 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 prepared by local restaurants, giving a good start to the local economy. The effort, manufactured in collaboration to local organisations and community members (with support from actor and Pittsburgh area native Michael Keaton), would be a pilot run. Now that we've proof-of-concept, we’ll advocate for your model in class 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 surge in new volunteers. Nationwide in March, over 1,500 new volunteers downloaded the app, which reflects a 300 percent surge in new volunteer sign-ups in comparison with an average month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests business cities to generate our app accessible to assistance with the swell of volunteers who want to be sure that seniors have food. 

Over the past five-years, our volunteers have completed over 90,000 rescues and delivered more than 12 million meals to folks who require them.

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

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero like a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – through the goodwill of ordinary those who want to make the entire world a bit more livable for individuals. In the face on this pandemic, there’s feeling of helplessness. But there’s still a great deal we can do for every other. Our platform gives people a secure method to help their neighbours.

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