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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 provide emergency food to the people in the US impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Here, CEO and Co-Founder Leah Lizarondo gives an introduction to the organisation’s relief contributions.

Food recovery platform adapts to fulfill quarantine needs

As the COVID-19 crisis raises the risk of food insecurity, the requirement for social isolation is additionally making it more difficult for vulnerable people to reach food assistance. Hearteningly, we’re seeing an boost in the amount of people looking to volunteer of their communities. The challenge is usually to harness this swell of engagement safely and effectively. My organisation, Food Rescue Hero, has become capable of adapt our extensive food recovery network to do just that.

Door-to-door food aid

Food Rescue Hero is definitely an international tech nonprofit located in Pittsburgh as well as serves Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, and very quickly, Vancouver. Over yesteryear five years, we’ve used our eponymous app to build the world’s largest network of volunteer food delivery drivers – 10,000 strong and growing. The network was originally built to prevent food waste by delivering surplus from supermarkets and restaurants to nonprofits that serve people experiencing food insecurity.

food delivery

Now that the pandemic has isolated a number of most vulnerable community members, we’re testing a new programme to deliver no-contact home deliveries. Volunteers bring donations straight away to households in need of assistance, all while following CDC guidelines to be sure everyone’s safety. An initial pilot run of 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 plan to thousands more homes.

We’re undertaking this project in partnership with nonprofits including food banks, food pantries and senior agencies. Once the pilot period in Greater Pittsburgh is completed, the protocol and features will likely be rolled out in every cities that this Food Rescue Hero app serves, with a goal to produce nationally sometime in 2010.

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 logistical challenges of retail food recovery, we work with a platform similar to prospects 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 the truck stops working, most 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 can be a perfect potential for individuals to serve others safely during these times.

Because in the platform’s flexibility, our service level stands at 99 percent, missing only 1 percent of obtainable rescues. Over earlier times five-years, our volunteers have finished over 90,000 rescues and delivered over 12 million meals to the people who need them. And at this time, the best way to than ever before are short of funds.

Thinking away from food shelf

delivering food to shop

One particularly vulnerable group we’ve identified is youngsters within the free and reduced lunch programme within our home base of Pittsburgh. Like many others nationally, the Pittsburgh public school district replied to school closures by quickly making take-home meals available on-site to students over these programmes. For many, however, this relief just isn't accessible because in the distance from their homes to grab sites – some children will have to walk one hour to have lunch. To ensure that these kids don’t fall from the cracks, we’ve been attempting to bring meals towards the one spot we know kids could get to every single 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 made by local restaurants, giving a boost for the local economy. The effort, stated in collaboration with other local organisations and community members (along with 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 for 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 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 increase in new volunteer sign-ups in comparison with a normal month. We’ve also seen a spike in requests using their company cities to produce our app accessible to benefit the swell of volunteers who want to make sure that seniors have food. 

Over days gone by five-years, our volunteers have finished more than 90,000 rescues and delivered over 12 million meals to people who require them.

Because driving food requires no congregation or groups, this is actually the perfect potential for individuals to serve others safely during these times. While maintaining physical distance, folks are finding new approaches to get together.

We always envisioned Food Rescue Hero like a movement. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – from the goodwill of ordinary people that want to produce the world a little more livable for people. In the face of this pandemic, there’s a sense of helplessness. But there’s still a lot we can easily do for every other. Our platform gives people a secure method to help their neighbours.

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