In 2018, United Way and 211 partnered with Lyft to launch Ride United Transportation Access. Our goal was providing rides to help people in need access essential medical services, complete education programs, get to job interviews, and more. Since then, this program has served people in over 1,900 cities and towns and has provided over 110,000 free and discounted rides.
In April of 2020, when COVID-19 limited physical access to healthy food services, United Way and 211 partnered with DoorDash to launch Ride United Last Mile Delivery, which powers the delivery of charitable food and essential items. Although this program was catalyzed by the pandemic, it’s an innovative approach to long-standing food access issues in the United States. So far, it has served people in over 455 cities and towns and has provided more than 718,000 free deliveries of an estimated 9.1 million meals.
And with support from PetSmart Charities, Ride United Last Mile Delivery also now delivers pet food and supplies, ensuring all members of families are healthy.
Bringing the Food Banks to Neighbors with DoorDash
Thomas is a veteran experiencing homelessness who is currently housed in a motel in Tallahassee, FL. He receives deliveries weekly, directly to his room, and uses the provided kitchenette to prepare his daily meals.
Given his status, he moves between motels frequently but Ride United is flexible – so he can get food delivered wherever he currently calls home.
He is thankful that his case manager at a community partner gave him a referral to the program.
Ensuring Healthy Food Supports Learning
COVID-19 challenged not only how schools deliver instruction, but also how they keep students fed. For children and families who rely on free or reduced-price meals at school, distance learning often undercut nutrition.
With support from Ride United, Akron, OH public schools delivered school meals directly to children participating in distance learning.
Said Celeste, “Having my child’s school meals delivered has been a huge help since I’ve returned to work... Thank you for doing this for the past few months!”
In this and other communities, Ride United has delivered school meals, backpacks filled with school supplies, and remote learning materials to support students during COVID-19.
Assisting Community Partners through Food Recovery & with Essential Items
When a domestic violence shelter in Huntsville, AL ran out of laundry detergent, diapers, period supplies, and other essential items, they contacted United Way. After recovering essential items from storage and local partner donations, the United Way used Ride United to deliver these items directly, making it convenient for staff and offering dignity to residents. In this and other communities, Ride United has brought food and essential items directly to residents of domestic violence and homeless shelters.
Supporting Health with Safe Transportation via Lyft
Eiko, a senior, lives alone in low-income housing in Reno, NV. After multiple back surgeries, she can’t drive and has no reliable way to get to the grocery store or medical appointments.
Eiko heard about Ride United from a neighbor and called 211 for more information. She got a ride for an upcoming appointment with her primary doctor and a ride to her grocery store another day. Eiko was thankful for the support, which preserved her independence.
Helping Neighbors on the Path to Financial Stability
Travis, who was experiencing homelessness, tested positive for COVID-19. After he recovered, Travis was able to find a job and an apartment but lacked transportation to get to and from work.
Through Ride United, Travis was able to get to work. Without the rides, Travis would have lost his job and likely his apartment. He often works seven days a week to save for a car. Travis says he wants to be independent, so that we can help more people in his community.
Ensuring Veterans & Caregivers Get the Help They Need
Roland and his neighbor in Denver, CO needed a ride to the VA hospital for a medical appointment. Roland is the caretaker for his neighbor, who uses a walker and oxygen. That day, Roland’s ride fell through, but he knew it was important that his neighbor keep his doctor’s appointment.
After calling 211, Roland was able get a ride to and from the VA that day for his friend. The 211 specialist also referred Roland to other non-emergency transportation services, including a few specifically dedicated to serving veterans.
Help us get people where they need to go by supporting Ride United. Your generous contribution will provide someone with a free ride to a job interview or chemotherapy appointment, or help deliver groceries from a food bank to someone in need.
If you need support from the Ride United program, dial 211 or visit 211.org. Free transportation and deliveries of food and essential items are not available in every community, but 211 specialists will connect you with the best available services to meet your needs.
Connect with your local United Way to see what activities are happening in your community and get involved. Find your local United Way here.
If you are interested in supporting Ride United as a partner or funder, please contact Sawyer Baker.