In response to the COVID-19 crisis and rising levels of hunger in communities across the U.S., United Way Worldwide is expanding Ride United, its transportation access initiative, to launch a “last mile” home delivery program that brings food and supplies to vulnerable populations.
United Way is partnering with DoorDash, the on-demand local logistics platform, to expand Ride United to include food delivery, starting in eight communities: Akron, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; Hartford, Connecticut; New Orleans; New York City; Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Ventura County, California. This partnership leverages DoorDash’s last mile logistics platform, including its fleet of Dashers, to power deliveries from local food banks, food pantries, and other distribution points to senior citizens, low-income families, and those who can’t leave home, providing meals to those in need and flexible earnings opportunities to Dashers.
Launched in 2019, United Way’s Ride United leverages local United Ways and 211 agencies in 27 cities across 17 states to provide more than 25,000 rides so far to job interviews, medical appointments, grocery stores, food pantries and more. The program is facilitated by 211, the vital service that connects millions of people to resources and assistance in the U.S. and Canada every year.
Since launching their “last mile” partnership in April, DoorDash, United Way and 211 have already delivered more than 15,000 food boxes to people in need. The “last mile” represents the last hurdle in getting food to people who are stuck at home during COVID-19, whether that’s because of health considerations or lack of public transit. In collaboration with local agencies, food banks and grocery partners, local United Ways and 211s are identifying available food for people who can’t travel, and arranging for deliveries powered by DoorDash.
In Akron, United Way of Summit County has been flooded with calls for help since the COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands to stay home – and the number of people in need of food has quadrupled. In the first few weeks of the Ride United expansion in April, United Way and DoorDash worked together to deliver more than 12 tons of food – which translates to some 19,000 meals.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way has been doing what we’ve always done when communities struggle – help people respond, recover and rebuild,” said Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide. “Yet with individuals and families facing ongoing financial challenges, we know their needs will continue, especially when it comes to putting food on the table.”
Levels of hunger in the U.S. have risen dramatically during the pandemic: more than one in five households are now considered food insecure, and nearly one in five children are not getting enough to eat, according to the Brookings Institution.
To address the increasing needs, DoorDash has accelerated the development of its local logistics infrastructure to support the scale required to power the delivery of food and essential supplies to those in need.