United Way, DoorDash Join Against Food Insecurity

By United Way of King County Posted on September 29, 2020 In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, News

Food insecurity is on the rise because of the continued COVID-19 crisis—and this is far from being purely anecdotal.

A team at University of Washington’s Center for Public Health Nutrition conducted a recent survey related to food security specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the information gathered in the survey:

  • Meals from food banks/pantries, summer/school meals programs, city agency grocery voucher or cash cards, and mobile food boxes all increased.
  • 41% cited the inability to use WIC (The Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program) benefits online as a barrier to accessing food or using benefits fully.
  • 46% were unaware of the expanded online grocery purchasing program for using SNAP benefits.
  • Respondents of color were more than 1.5 times as likely to be food insecure as white respondents.

Solution: Boost Use of Existing Tech and Food Resources

To fill the noticeable gaps, we’ve partnered with DoorDash, United Way Worldwide, Safeway and a dozen area food banks to provide weekly home delivery of food to households unable to access their local food bank or grocery store.

The program is deceptively simple—a DoorDash driver is scheduled to pick up food and then deliver it to someone’s home. United Way works with our partners to identify where food can be sourced from and where it’s needed.

Our partnership with DoorDash is now serving nearly 2,000 households each week. To meet the growing need, we’re ramping up to support 3,000+ weekly food deliveries this fall.

How the DoorDash Partnership Works

Here are a few ways United Way is collaborating between 211 requests and DoorDash to identify the need in local neighborhoods:

  • Safeway came on board and made deliveries from four sites in Kent, South Seattle and Crown Hill. Food boxes reached 780 households, 180 of which received culturally appropriate produce boxes designed in collaboration with Vietnamese Mutual Aid.
  • Highline College Food Pantry came on board and delivered produce boxes to 50 student households. The pantry has received a recurring donation for the month of September of produce from a local, Mexican-owned organic farm.

“A client today told me all about the food in the food box and how happy they are with it! Lots of fresh and healthy food. And it has helped so much—since he’s not supposed to drive, now he doesn’t have to go to a grocery store.” —Case manager

In all, it’s an exciting use of existing technology, food resources and delivery system that’s helping combat food insecurity in the local community right now.


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