Food bank organization offers online ordering, delivery

A food pantry filled with various types of food.

Written by James Shea

Food relief agency Feeding America has started an online ordering system. Called OrderAhead, the project allows needy people to place an order through a food bank and have food delivered to schools, drive-thru distributions, libraries and in some cases their homes.

According to the USDA, 10% of households in the United States are food insecure, and that number has increased during the pandemic as millions of restaurants and other businesses laid people off. Founded in the 1960s, Feeding America is a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries that supply food to needy individuals at no cost. Two-thirds of the food are groceries and one-third are prepared meals, according to the organization.

In general, online food ordering is done by people who can afford the added cost, but the technology has the ability to help alleviate food deserts and provide easier access to food. Transportation, social stigma and time are often reported as barriers that prevent individuals from seeking help. For people who are uncomfortable seeking food assistance, the platform offers a more private and discreet experience.

Feeding America began looking at online food ordering in 2020 with a pilot project. So far, the test project has delivered food to 15,000 needy individuals.

Now with funding from The Humana Foundation and the Walmart Foundation, Feeding America is expanding the project.

“Having access to nutritious food is paramount in helping people live better,” said Maryann Byrdak, chief information officer at Feeding America. “When someone has a difficult time accessing food, it’s important we help connect the dots. OrderAhead is a tool that not only helps connect people to food assistance but does it in an efficient, convenient, and private way.”

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