Two U.S.-based companies are looking to combine their expertise in delivering meals and identifying those who need them to help combat both hunger and the food waste issues across the country.
The recently announced DoorDash and Feeding America initiative is focused on tackling the massive problem of food waste and hunger. Consumer-facing foodservice businesses offer one of the most significant opportunities to rescue more food. It is where 50 billion of the 72 billion pounds of food wasted every year comes from.
The biggest barrier to donation, according to 78 percent of restaurants in the U.S., is not having the logistical means for delivering to food banks and shelters. This pilot program is aimed to rescue food from restaurants that would otherwise become waste.
“Our mission is to deliver good by connecting people and possibility, which is something that has always been intrinsic to our internal culture,” says Tony Xu, co-founder and CEO of DoorDash. “We wanted to bring this to life externally, and earlier this month, we unveiled a renewed brand strategy around the concept of ‘delivering good.’”
One of the first ways DoorDash started bringing the delivering good concept to fruition is through Project DASH, a company-wide initiative that focuses on tackling the massive problem of food waste and hunger.
“What started as a hackathon, piloting in New York City and Los Angeles, started gaining momentum, and that is where the partnership with Feeding America comes into play,” says Xu. “The partnership is a natural extension of DoorDash’s core values and taps our logistical expertise and expansive network of restaurants to expand Feeding America’s food rescue efforts.”
Founded in 2013, DoorDash is a San Francisco-based technology company that connects customers with their favorite local and national restaurants in more than 600 cities across the U.S. and Canada.
“DoorDash had been running a pilot program using their drivers to deliver donated product to recipient agencies, but they were having issues identifying and managing a roster of those agencies,” says Justin Block, director of retail information services for Chicago-based Feeding America. “They reached out when they learned our network had been rescuing food for decades and our MealConnect platform could seamlessly supply that missing information for them.”
Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, the organization provides meals to more than 46 million people each year.
“By uniting the MealConnect and DoorDash platforms, we are creating a seamless solution for donors and recipient agencies that will allow more food to be rescued and served to clients quickly,” says Block. “At the consumer-facing level, more than 50 million pounds of food ends up in landfills. Innovative partnerships like this will help put a greater portion of the wholesome surplus food on the tables of people who need it most.”
DoorDash will introduce a pilot program that pairs the company's logistical platform with Feeding America's free donation website or smartphone application called MealConnect. Food businesses interested in donating extra meals or inventory will post it on the app.
MealConnect will identify the best-suited agency for that donation and send over details of the donation—where the donor is located, where the recipient is located, what the product is, how it is packaged and how much is available—to DoorDash. The DoorDash Drive platform will then notify its drivers about the opportunity, where it will be accepted and executed.
“DoorDash is dedicating engineering resources to connect DoorDash Drive, our white glove fulfillment and catering service, with MealConnect's API,” says Xu. “Through MealConnect, we will provide last-mile delivery expertise and support between restaurants, smaller shelters and food banks, adding a valuable transportation component to the MealConnect platform. This allows our restaurant partners to request a Dasher to pick up and donate their unused food to a local food bank or soup kitchen partnered with Feeding America.”