United Way of Greater Chattanooga announced on Thursday its 2,398 delivery of food boxes and household supplies to vulnerable populations throughout Hamilton County through the Ride United Last-Mile Delivery initiative. This milestone delivery also marks the delivery of one million meals to those in need throughout the country. The United Way Ride United Last-Mile home delivery program launched in April in response to the COVID-19 crisis to deliver food and supplies to vulnerable populations in communities across the U.S.
United Way’s partnership with DoorDash and funding from donors, including The Rockefeller Foundation and Safeway Stores’ Nourishing Neighbors program, enabled delivery services of food boxes from local food banks, food pantries and other distribution points to older adults, low-income families and those who can't leave home, providing meals to those in need. The most common client profiles are:
• Female senior citizens, living alone;
• High risk, immuno-compromised, populations that are vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, and must quarantine, yet who are food insecure and need access charitable food; and
• People who have lost jobs/wages, are without transportation or childcare and who need charitable food.
“The last mile represents the final hurdle in getting food to people who must remain at home due to COVID-19 and who experience food insecurity,” said Lesley Scearce, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Chattanooga. “United Ways and the 211 network have convened local agencies, food banks and grocery partners to identify available food for people who can't travel and arrange for deliveries by DoorDash ‘Dashers’. Solving problems sustainably takes partnership, and by working together we can make sure every person gets the support they need in this difficult time.”
The DoorDash partnership in Greater Chattanooga has required collaboration with other local organizations like Hamilton County Schools and The Bethlehem Center. The role of Dashers and partnerships of organizations has provided a human-touch in the midst of a socially distant world and produced stories of impact like the following:
“We had a DoorDash driver came back after doing his deliveries to let us know that a house he had delivered several meals to for us, still had meals sitting on the porch that had been delivered on prior days. He said that it looked as though an animal had gotten into the lunches. He asked if we could go check on the family and see if they were doing okay. This meant a lot to us because this particular family is one that we worry about sometimes. The DoorDasher's initiative was very important in that situation so we knew that we should get in contact with the family right away and see if anything was going on. This Dasher not only delivering a lunch but cared about the welfare of the people receiving the meal.”
Those interested in supporting Ride United or learning more can visit UnitedWay.org/RideUnited. Those who need help finding available local resources, including food, can speak with a 211 Community Resource Specialist by dialing 2-1-1, 423-265-8000, or toll free at 1-866-921-3035. You can also text your zip code to 898-211 to start a text chat or email at email@example.com.
If you’re a nonprofit, currently have a pantry and are interested in deliveries to your clients, contact Carmen Hutson at CarmenHutson@uwchatt.org.