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  • Writer's pictureHunger-Free Pennsylvania

Celebrating Women’s History Month with Project DASH!

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the contributions of women throughout history, and also a time to remember that there is still work to be done in establishing gender equality. The powerful legacies of women are too often forgotten and, to promote a more equitable society, we all must highlight and celebrate the work of women. During Women’s History Month and throughout the year, DoorDash works to broaden access to opportunity, highlight women-owned businesses on our platform, and spotlight women who are leaders in their communities.

Spotlight: Women Leaders

Sheila Christopher, Executive Director, Hunger Free Pennsylvania (HFPA), a Project DASH partner, has been working to broaden food access for over 30 years. She has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state House and Senate for her work in combating hunger in her home state. In 2010, Christopher initiated and oversaw the effort to establish the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, which leverages Pennsylvania’s agricultural surplus and charitable food distribution infrastructure to the benefit of farmers, packers and Pennsylvanians struggling with hunger. HFPA supports a network of 21 food banks that serve food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other hunger-relief organizations which serve over 40,000 people.

When we asked Christopher how her industry had changed over the course of her 3-decade tenure in respect to women in the workplace, this is what she had to say:

“It has changed a lot, but not in the way you expect. 35 years ago, this industry was mostly run by women. It was considered a social service job. It was low-paid and it attracted a lot of women who were looking for a second income to add to the household. Many food banks were faith-based and run by nuns. They lead the way for other women to take up these positions, too.

Now, there’s a lot more men in the industry. We’ve evolved to higher pay. But that’s because everything has evolved. And it was the women who innovated. I have to give credit to the way they took it another step forward. It wasn’t enough for them to just give out food. So they started new programs. One of the original programs was a once a week class where people would come to learn how to prepare meals with the food they got that month. We also wanted to encourage self esteem. We didn’t want it to be embarrassing to get the box of food. Over the years, these initiatives snowballed into different programs.

Food banks are considered a nonprofit commercial operation now, held to for-profit industry standards. A lot of that came from hard work by women in those early days that wanted to do more than just give out boxes of food. They elevated the industry and then the men were interested. It was a compliment.”

Tracy Chang, the chef and owner of PAGU, a Japanese tapas restaurant in Cambridge, MA. Tracy is a participant in the Boston Cohort of DoorDash’s Main Street Strong Accelerator, which provides financial support and specialized educational resources to small businesses with a particular focus on women, immigrant and BIPOC-owned restaurants. Tracy Chang, a current participant in our Main Street Strong Accelerator, is the chef and owner of PAGU, a Japanese tapas restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts that aims to celebrate family, friends, innovation, and creativity. Chang is also a social entrepreneur who co-founded Off Their Plate, which partners with minority women chefs to cook wholesome meals straight from the heart for folks experiencing crisis including healthcare workers in COVID-19 wards while providing economic relief to restaurant employees. She also co-founded Project Restore Us, which employs restaurant workers to pack groceries for essential worker families in high-Covid, low-income neighborhoods.

We asked Chang how her grandmother’s story as a restaurateur had inspired her:

“I would hear stories about how hard it was. They would try to scare me all the time by telling me stories about hate crimes. My grandparents were targeted and robbed multiple times when they were over 65. They would always tell me not even to own a business because I would get robbed.

But what motivated me to do it anyway were the positive memories. Sundays we usually spent at my Grandmother’s house or restaurant and we were always surrounded by food and family. My grandmother’s restaurant was a very traditional Japanese restaurant. It was magical. You would walk in and feel transported.

I get a similar feeling of satisfaction from bringing people together around food. And I take a lot of pride and joy in doing payroll, too and in being able to give bonuses, to gather everyone. We’re building a relationship outside of the restaurant too. I don’t want to open multiple locations of my restaurant. I just wanted to build an extension of my home in Cambridge.”

Supporting Women-Owned Businesses Through Our Platform This month, DoorDash is shining a spotlight on women-owned businesses on our platform in partnership with Re:Her and Bumble in select cities in the U.S. RE:Her is a national non-profit driven by women restaurateurs on a mission to empower and advance women, women of color, indigenous women, and LGBTQ+ identifying women food and beverage entrepreneurs. It provides through marketing and business programs, accelerators, fundraising, and its equity framework. From March 4-13, DoorDash and Caviar will feature a carousel of RE:Her participating members in Los Angeles and offer exclusive dishes.

Additionally, Caviar is working with Bumble, the women-first dating and social networking app, to champion women-led restaurants. From March 7-21, customers can discover more than 300 restaurants through the collection, making it easy to support their favorite women-led restaurant. During Women’s History Month and throughout the year, all women-owned businesses can sign up to receive our in-app Women Owned store banner here. The banner will be displayed permanently in the app to help customers identify and support local women owned businesses more easily.

Loan Matching for Women-Owned Businesses to Level the Playing Field Women entrepreneurs face barriers to success, including difficulty in raising capital through business loans. To help provide the capital women-owned businesses need, DoorDash matches loans for women-owned businesses through our partnership with Kiva, a global non-profit whose mission is to expand financial access. Loans for eligible merchants provide funding up to $15,000, are crowdsourced, and provided at a 0% interest rate and no fees. Additionally, our Entrepreneurship & Access Programs in the US and Canada offer women, immigrant, and BIPOC-owned businesses access to marketing support, resources, health insurance options, training, and more. Interested entrepreneurs can sign up here.

Women Entrepreneurs Leading the Way Earlier this month, DoorDash hosted a panel championing women leaders and entrepreneurs and inviting women business owners in Canada to join DoorDash’s Entrepreneurship & Access programs. Panelists discussed how women entrepreneurs and business owners are breaking barriers and leading the way to an inclusive future. DoorDash also announced a $30,000 Community Credits donation to support new parents to Haven on Queensway’s First Care program. To learn more, you can watch a recording of the panel here.

The panel included the Hon. Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, the Hon. Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, Shilpa Arora, General Manager, DoorDash Canada and Kristin Finley, Co-Founder & CEO of Eva’s Original Chimneys, Guerrilla Burger & Happy Taco.Women’s History, Women’s Futures

At DoorDash, our work to support women-owned businesses is an ongoing effort that is reflected in our platform, voice, and resources. As we celebrate women’s history and the contributions they’ve made, we’re equally excited and looking forward, optimistically, to a more equitable world.


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