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Refusing to Let Hunger Win

Up to 828 million people. 

That’s how many people went hungry across the globe last year, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, a report issued by the UN. Child hunger and malnutrition continues to rise, and does racial and ethnic disparities in food insecurity. Across the world, United Way is working with partners to help make health food more available to more people. 

A Big Idea with a Big Result

United Way & 211

At United Way, we take on the biggest challenges—in new ways. That’s why our Ride United: Last Mile Delivery program has won awards for innovation and impact. This program’s result is 20.3 million meals delivered. This spotlight recognizes the collaboration between United Way, 211, DoorDash, TikTok, PetSmart Charities and other national and local partners driving the program’s success.

Ride United: Last Mile Delivery provides those in need with free deliveries of food and essential items such as personal care supplies for infants and seniors, food and supplies for pets and service animals, and educational supplies for students.  The free “last mile” door-to-door deliveries of food from area food banks, food pantries and other distribution points to senior citizens, low-income families and those who can’t leave home is making a big difference during the pandemic. 

Fast Fact:

211 is a vital service supported by United Way that connects people to essential health and human services. Anyone in need can call 211 or visit to get connected to local resources in the U.S. and Canada.

Since launching early last year, Ride United: Last Mile Delivery has provided more than 1.5 million free deliveries.  This support has made a real difference, supported by 62 local United Ways and 211, with 700+ local partners, including food pantries, grocery stores, and places of worship. In addition to food, other deliveries have included diapers/infant supplies, mental health kits, weather-appropriate goods, disaster preparedness supplies, pet food, caregiving and senior supplies, period products, and moreMore than 34,000 households received food pantry boxes, meals and other essential items.

The scaling of this innovation made an impression on Innovation Leader, which focuses on innovation in corporate America, that led it to recognize the United Way program with one of its prestigious Impact Awards in November. Judge Al Callier of noted that United Way Worldwide “achieved significant impact, at large scale, during a critical time.”

The Business Intelligence Group recognized United Way’s innovative approach with its prestigious BIG Innovation Award. “More than ever, global society relies on innovation to help progress humanity and make our lives more productive, healthy and comfortable,” said Maria Jimenez, Chief Operating Officer of the Business Intelligence Group.

“We are thrilled to honor United Way Worldwide as one of the organizations leading this charge and helping humanity progress.” 

Reducing the barriers to receiving food and increasing access for vulnerable populations isn’t something United Way does alone. Across the nation, local partners have stepped up to provide this opportunity in their communities. Our partners include not only food pantries and food banks, but also schools, government agencies, other non-profits, restaurants, faith-based organizations, grocers, and more. It’s just one example of the kind of innovative thinking, partnership and programs that United Way is driving.

A Recipe for a Healthier Childhood

United Way Bengaluru

Ravi is not quite three years old. His parents, both laborers, persistently lack access to nutritious foods and are challenged to create healthy eating habits in their home. Ravi’s diet often contains foods with poor nutritional value. United Way of Bengaluru is helping families such as Ravi’s by working through local mothers’ groups to share nutritional information and healthy food habits moms can bring home to their families.

Ravi’s mother has embraced what she’s learned and practices her newfound dietary habits daily in her household, thanks to a ready-made recipe book she received from United Way of Bengaluru. Her family is now eating better, and, at this critical stage of Ravi’s childhood development, his health is noticeably improved. 

Fighting Rural Hunger One Box At a Time

United Way of Central Iowa

With Central Iowa facing one of the nation’s lowest rates of fruit and vegetable consumption, United Way of Central Iowa works to increase the availability of and access to fresh, healthy food. When the COVID-19 pandemic layered its crushing impact on Iowan communities, access to fresh food became even more difficult.

One of United Way’s local partner organizations, Eat Greater Des Moines, is helping bring solutions through its “Operation: Fresh Produce Drop” program (OFPD). This program works with United Way and other local agencies to deliver fresh dairy and produce throughout the region. 

Each week the United Way-funded initiative delivered over 2,300 USDA boxes of produce and dairy a week. When the program ended in May 2021, OFPD had moved more than 3 million pounds of fresh, healthy food to 125+ different local organizations. 

Remarkably, it’s estimated that 80% of OFPD recipients had not had prior access to emergency food resources due to existing barriers. This program is part of a larger United Way-led coalition working to enhance access to Medicaid, food and child care assistance. OFPD was able to overcome those obstacles by using its expansive network of partners, churches, and refugee and immigrant-serving organizations to reach youth programs, affordable housing communities and in-home daycare operations that had previously not had consistent access to fresh food.