Grandma Lizzy, who lives in Hallandale, Florida, once faced a daily challenge: getting fresh food. She’d been receiving fresh produce and pantry goods from the Mobile School Pantry for several months, living without a car, she would walk to the school, where food was being distributed. This was frequently difficult in South Florida with the inclement weather, and the high temperatures. Her mobility issues and the harsh weather made it difficult for her to make the trip to the grocery store. With United Way’s transformative Ride United Last Mile Delivery (RULMD) program, accessing healthy meals is less of a burden. Grandma Lizzy’s Mobile School Pantry became a part of the RULMD program, ensuring that she and her grandchildren were able to get their food delivered.
RULMD is a collaborative effort between United Ways, the 211 Network, and DoorDash. It was born out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the pandemic restricted physical access to healthy food services. DoorDash joined forces with United Way and 211 to launch RULMD, which facilitates the delivery of charitable food and essential items.
The essence of Last Mile Delivery is community collaboration. United Ways and 211 collaborate with food pantries, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and various stakeholders to meet the pressing needs of individuals who need food and essential item deliveries. Using a secure online system, United Way/211 submits pick-up and drop-off details to DoorDash to schedule deliveries at a discounted rate.
These deliveries have transformed lives. After having a stroke in 2022, Doreen had to take a lower paying job. RULMD has been a lifeline for her and many others who are facing health issues and economic hardships. Of the deliveries she says, “I look forward to Tuesday afternoons... It’s like happiness in a bag."
Beyond the individual testimonials, RULMD strikes at the heart of systemic racism, poverty, and inequality. It underscores that access to basic necessities is not solely a matter of distance but a complex interplay of challenges that obstruct individuals from leading healthy, financially secure lives and attaining education.
In Owatonna, Minnesota, Miss Rhonda's weekly hot meal deliveries have not only improved her financial situation but also profoundly enhanced her overall well-being. Meanwhile, in Hernando County, Florida, three separate families, all refugees from Ukraine, were being housed together in one home. The adults were all waiting for work permits, and had no income. There was one vehicle for all 13 family members. They did not have car seats for the younger children and gas was too expensive to drive the distance to the food pantry. United Way was contacted by their case worker and they were enrolled in the RULMD program. Through this generous partnership with St. Vincent de Paul's Food Pantry and DoorDash, they were able to have groceries delivered to their doorstep.
Ultimately, the two Ride United programs transcend statistics and services rendered. They embody hope, empowerment, and community. They stand as a testament to the belief that transportation should be accessible to all, transcending barriers and bringing individuals and communities closer together. Much like Grandma Lizzy, Miss Rhonda, and Dorene, countless others across the United States are now on the path to thriving.
Ride United is a reminder that we are all interconnected and that we have a responsibility to help one another. When we support Ride United and projects like it, we are not just helping individuals, we are building a stronger, more equitable community for all. Reach out to your local United Way to find out how you can help build stronger communities.