Taking aim at the food insecurity now facing millions of Americans, Convoy, the Seattle-based digital freight network, on Thursday announced that it will pay the trucking costs for any business in the U.S. wanting to donate a truckload of product to the business’ local food bank.
Convoy’s new program taps into Feeding America’s network of 200 centralized food banks and 60,000 local soup kitchens and pantries.
Participating shippers can reach out to Convoy with a full truckload donation and are matched with a food bank or soup kitchen, usually within 40 miles or less of their facility. Convoy’s network then finds, books and pays a truck driver to deliver the goods to that food bank.
Land O’Lakes Inc., one of the first shippers to participate in the program, plans to initially donate more than 1,300 cases of macaroni and cheese to South Michigan Food Bank in Battle Creek, Michigan, according to a press release.
“In this unprecedented time of crisis, finding innovative ways to immediately help our communities feels more important than ever,” said Alex Brewin, Transportation Procurement, Land O’Lakes Inc., in the press statement.
“We are pleased to join forces with Convoy to share what resources we have with the people who benefit the greatest.”
The COVID-19 outbreak is making it difficult for food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens to fulfill their missions at a time when they’re needed the most, said Dan Lewis, Convoy co-founder and CEO, who has been working with his team on the program since the pandemic struck.
The startup’s digital freight network, he said, can “immediately source drivers to move food donations to the communities where they’re needed most.”
With millions suddenly unemployed, food banks across the U.S. are experiencing unprecedented demand amid a shortage of supplies. According to Feeding America, more than 54 million Americans are now food insecure.
In 2018, according to the USDA, 37.2 million people lived in food insecure households.
Traditionally, grocery stores have been a major donation source, regularly contributing excess inventory. However, those stores are grappling with panic-buying and empty shelves, shifting their focus to restocking and adequately sanitizing grocery surfaces, instead of organizing donations to local food banks.
Feeding America estimates that the cost of buying food to offset this drop in donations, and the decline in its volunteer labor force, is about $1.4 billion.