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  • Writer's pictureHunger-Free Pennsylvania

Partner Insight: How Local Delivery Through Project DASH Expanded PA's Reach to Seniors

SEPTEMBER 13, 2022

Especially during times of high inflation, seniors depend on access to nutritious food from food banks and food pantries but transportation and other barriers often stop them from getting the food they need. Food insecurity remains high among seniors, and although food assistance programs exist, seniors often face barriers to access them because of transportation, mobility, and technology challenges. Unable to carry heavy food boxes on their own, many seniors are under-serviced by existing charitable food programs.

In Pennsylvania, more than 337,000 older Pennsylvanians are eligible for the Senior Food Box Program – which provides nutritious food packages to low-income residents through the USDA’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) – but only 10% of those eligible for the program benefits are enrolled to receive the food box in 2022.

To remove barriers and increase enrollment in the underutilized Senior Food Box Program, DoorDash and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, the state’s partner in administering the federally funded Senior Food Box Program, launched an innovative partnership to deliver healthy, nutritious groceries to homebound seniors. By delivering charitable food directly to seniors in their home as part of DoorDash’s Project DASH social impact initiative, this partnership alleviates transportation and other barriers for seniors – like managing a 25- to 35-pound food box – while emphasizing convenience and dignity.

Through DoorDash and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania’s partnership, Project DASH has delivered more than 35,000 food boxes, the equivalent of over 530,000 meals, since its launch in July 2021. This partnership increased the CSFP participation rate for Pennsylvania, allowing them to increase their reach by 15% and go from serving 81% of their assigned caseload to 96% in one year, fueled almost entirely by deliveries via Project DASH. The success of this program demonstrates the transformational power of local delivery and how food banks and food pantries can leverage partnerships with Project DASH to reach community members where they are, with the nutritious food they deserve, in a convenient and dignified way that transcends existing food access barriers.

“Seniors often face barriers to access food assistance programs because they can’t get to them, or they can’t use the technology they need to access care,” Hunger-Free Pennsylvania Executive Director, Sheila Christopher said. “This partnership with DoorDash helps us overcome these barriers by delivering healthy meals right at their doorstep. No senior citizens should ever go hungry, and innovative partnerships like this are moving us closer to achieving that goal.”

Launched by DoorDash in 2018, Project DASH enables government and nonprofit partners to request pickup and delivery using the same technology available to DoorDash’s merchant partners. These deliveries are fulfilled by Dashers to people experiencing food insecurity and other clients – increasing access to food and other essential items while providing greater convenience and dignity for some of the community’s most vulnerable residents. Nationally, the items being delivered by Dashers include food boxes, prepared meals, school supplies, home essentials, mental health kits, and even holiday items. As of June 2022, Project DASH had powered more than 2 million deliveries of food equal to an estimated over 35 million meals, and actively partners with more than 50 food banks in the Feeding America network.

“DoorDash is proud to partner with Hunger-Free Pennsylvania to broaden access to healthy, nutritious food for seniors in the state. The Senior Food Box Program is a lifeline for older people experiencing food insecurity but many of them face transportation and other barriers to accessing the food they depend on. Project DASH powers the local delivery of charitable food which helps remove barriers so CSFP and other programs can ensure food travels to their clients, not the other way around,” said Kelly Jones, Director of DoorDash Drive’s Government and Nonprofit team.

Delivery from local food banks not only helps remove barriers, but also improves the client experience. Despite the widespread need for food assistance, participation in social safety net programs often comes with stigma. Accepting assistance can be difficult for seniors who don’t always ask for help when they’re in need. With local delivery, seniors can avoid the stigma that many may feel when picking up food at a centralized food bank location. Seniors can, in turn, feel more comfortable participating in the charitable food system and social programs.

Delivery can address many of the barriers to access faced by seniors and other people experiencing food insecurity eligible for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program across the United States – including barriers that were present before the pandemic and will persist after the pandemic recedes – while simultaneously enhancing the client experience and increasing the reach of food banks to even more individuals in need.

Project DASH, a Feeding America Guiding Partner, powers the delivery of charitable food for food banks, food pantries, and other anti-hunger agencies across the United States and Canada. Organizations serving seniors and other people experiencing food insecurity can sign up here to learn more, so that transportation is never a barrier to life-sustaining nourishment.

This article is a sponsored post provided by DoorDash.

Published in News, September 13, 2022


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