ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 nation's leading 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 Ft. 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 in these unprecedented times.
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.
The philanthropic and in-kind contributions from The Rockefeller Foundation, DoorDash, the Albertsons Companies Foundation, and the Why Not You Foundation, led by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Ciara, is paving the way for more deliveries in more cities in coming weeks, including the Pacific Northwest. United Way invites other philanthropic partners to join these efforts.
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. We appreciate The Rockefeller Foundation, DoorDash, Albertsons, and Ciara and Russell Wilson joining us to help more people access food through Ride United. Solving problems sustainably takes partnership, and by working together we can make sure every person gets the support they need in this difficult time."
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. Calls to 211 for help with food have quadrupled: of some 70,000 calls a day (an all-time high for 211), nearly half are related to food in many communities.
"We're proud to support United Way in this important initiative to help vulnerable communities in need and which builds on the Foundation's longstanding commitment to increasing equitable access to healthy and nourishing food for all," said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. "We will continue to support efforts to meet this current moment of crisis as well as to find longer term and sustainable solutions for hunger in the U.S."
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. "DoorDash's mission is grounded in building technology to solve real problems and empower local communities," said Tony Xu, DoorDash's CEO/Co-Founder. "In the face of COVID-19, a tremendous need has emerged for last-mile deliveries of food and supplies, particularly for seniors, the immuno-compromised, low-income students, and families that are at risk. We're proud to partner with United Way to accelerate our shared efforts to serve our communities during this critical time."
Ciara and Russell Wilson and their Why Not You Foundation have joined the effort to help raise resources for the program and awareness of the campaign. "Through our Why Not You Foundation, we have always strived to empower change in the world, especially during times like this. Frontline workers in every field from medicine to food supply deserve our gratitude right now," according to a statement from the Wilsons. "That's why we wanted to give our support to organizations like United Way and 211 for their sacrifice and hard work in delivering food to people in need through the Ride United program."
Albertsons Companies Foundation will work with local United Ways to support the initiative in Safeway and Albertsons stores in Oregon and Washington state, and Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons stores in Southern California.
Those interested in supporting Ride United or learning more can visit UnitedWay.org/RideUnited. People who need help finding available local resources, including food, can call 211 or visit 211.org for more information.
About United Way
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world's largest privately funded nonprofit. We're engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit www.UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.
211 is a vital service leveraged by millions of people across North America. Every day, clients contact 211 to access free and confidential crisis and emergency counseling, disaster assistance, food, health care and insurance assistance, stable housing and utilities payment assistance, employment services, veteran services and childcare and family services. Last year, 211 responded to over 12 million requests for assistance across the United States. The service is available to over 95% of the U.S. population, including in Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, and is also available in most of Canada. Individuals in need or who are looking for information for someone else can call 211 from a cell phone or landline or visit www.211.org for more contact options.
DoorDash is a technology company that connects customers with their favorite local and national businesses in more than 4,000 cities and all 50 states across the United States, Canada and Australia. Founded in 2013, DoorDash empowers merchants to grow their businesses by offering on-demand delivery, data-driven insights, and better in-store efficiency, providing delightful experiences from door to door. By building the last-mile delivery infrastructure for local cities, DoorDash is bringing communities closer, one doorstep at a time. Read more on the DoorDash blog or at www.doordash.com.
About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.
About Albertsons Companies
Locally great and nationally strong, Albertsons Companies is a leading food and drug retailer in the United States. As of February 29, 2020, the Company operated 2,252 retail stores with 1,726 pharmacies, 402 associated fuel centers, 23 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. The company's stores predominantly operate under the banners Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw's, Star Market, United Supermarkets, Market Street, and Haggen. Albertsons Companies is committed to helping people across the country live better lives by making a meaningful difference, neighborhood by neighborhood. In fiscal 2019 alone, along with the Albertsons Companies Foundation, the Company gave $225 million in food and financial support. These efforts helped millions of people in the areas of hunger relief, education, cancer research and treatment, programs for people with disabilities and veterans' outreach.
About the Why Not You Foundation
The Why Not You Foundation was created to support Russell Wilson and his wife Ciara's desire to empower change in the world, one individual and one child at a time. The Foundation strives to inspire kids to approach life with a "why not you" attitude by encouraging them to embrace opportunities, overcome obstacles and make a positive impact within themselves, their family, their community and the world. The Why Not You Foundation supports programs and partner organizations that specifically focus on poverty, education, health and wellness, and empowering girls and young women.