ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- It is almost United Nations' #WorldFoodDay2021, a reminder that some 42 million Americans will experience food insecurity in 2021. Driven to do their part to eradicate hunger, United Way Worldwide announces the award-winning Ride United Last Mile Delivery program has made more than half a million deliveries in more than 350 communities since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, representing more than 5.6 million meals to date.
Ride United Last Mile Delivery was designed to fill the critical "last-mile" gap to accessing nutritious food and essential resources for clients who lack transportation. In partnership with DoorDash, Dashers make deliveries directly to households, meeting the needs of all family members, now including those with fur in a new pilot, adding PetSmart Charities to the collaboration with the delivery. Since launching the innovative effort, deliveries have broadened access to warm meals, pet food, hygiene items, disaster preparedness supplies, educational materials and more. With contactless delivery and safety protocols in use, the campaign has proven safe and effective in transporting more than half a million deliveries to those in need, with a goal of reaching one million deliveries by the close of 2021.
The United Nations' World Food Day raises critical awareness regarding the causes of poverty and hunger, citing that 40% of the world's population cannot afford a healthy diet. To combat this issue in the U.S., local United Way offices and 211 agencies (an abbreviated telephone number providing information and referrals to health, human, and social service organizations) are working with local agencies, food banks and grocery partners to identify those eligible. With support from partners including PetSmart Charities and DoorDash, Ride United maximizes the efficiency of its delivery model by bringing critical supplies to those impacted most by the pandemic's reach.
"I can't think of a better time than World Food Day to share that calls to 211 relating to food insecurity topped out at 3.7 million this past year. Our organizations and partners are working around the clock to combat this preventable problem," said Josh Pedersen, Interim Senior Director 211, United Way Worldwide. "The United Way Network is at our best when we are tackling critical issues on the ground in creative ways with willing partners. United Way has been doing what we've always done when communities struggle – help people respond, recover and rebuild and are honored to have joined forces with DoorDash and PetSmart Charities to support World Food Day by helping more people beat food insecurity."
"World Food Day is a reminder that millions of people do not have access to the food they need. To broaden food access, DoorDash is proud to power the delivery of food and essential items through Project DASH," said Brittany Graunke, DoorDash Drive's Director of Government and Nonprofit. "Leveraging our last-mile logistics, we're able to create impact in a way that promotes dignity and convenience. We look forward to continuing to grow this work with our partners United Way Worldwide and PetSmart Charities to address the ongoing need."
"Pets are part of the family," said Aimee Gilbreath, president at PetSmart Charities. "In the US, 70% of households have a pet, including many that experience food insecurity. We know some people will choose to feed their beloved pet before themselves. A lack of transportation makes it worse. But no one organization can solve hunger – and together with United Way and DoorDash, combining our resources means fewer people will have to make those impossible choices."
Beginning October 1 United Way Worldwide will host a two-week campaign culminating on World Food Day, to drive awareness of Ride United Last Mile Delivery and garner financial support to fund an additional 500,000 deliveries to meet increased year-end and holiday season demand.
For information on partnership opportunities or to make a donation, please visit: UnitedWay.org/RideUnited. (*Donations up to $600 made in 2021 are tax deductible.)
To learn about available local resources, including food, please 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. With global reach and local impact, we're making life better for 48 million people annually. United Way is the world's largest privately funded nonprofit, working in 95% of U.S. communities and 40 countries and territories. That's why we're the mission of choice for 2.5 million volunteers, 7.7 million donors and 45,000 corporate partners. In the wake of COVID-19, we're helping people stay in their homes, stock their pantries, and protect their lives and livelihoods. And we're working to build resilient, equitable communities. Learn more at UnitedWay.org. Follow us: @United Way 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 consumers with their favorite local and national businesses in more than 4,000 cities and all 50 states across the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan. Founded in 2013, DoorDash enables local businesses to address consumers' expectations of ease and immediacy and thrive in today's convenience economy. By building the last-mile logistics infrastructure for local commerce, DoorDash is bringing communities closer, one doorstep at a time.
About PetSmart Charities®
PetSmart Charities, Inc. is committed to making the world a better place for pets and all who love them. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps nearly 600,000 pets connect with loving families each year. PetSmart Charities also provides grant funding to support organizations that advocate and care for the well-being of all pets and their families. Our grants and efforts connect pets with loving homes through adoption, improve access to affordable veterinary care and support families in times of crisis with access to food, shelter and emergency relief. Each year, millions of generous supporters help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities directly at PetSmartCharities.org, while shopping at PetSmart.com, and by using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting more than $475 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for the past 17 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of rated charities. To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org.