United Way Ride Program Celebrates 50,000 Delivery

food delivery in the covid-19 era, african american woman opening door to receive take out order while wearing mask

United Way of Westchester and Putnam’s Ride United Last Mile Delivery (RULMD) initiative has completed more than 50,000 deliveries of meals, food boxes, and household supplies to vulnerable populations throughout Westchester and Putnam counties using DoorDash, since it launched in July 2020.

The RULMD program is part of United Way’s national efforts to close the transportation gap for those in need. The program began in response to the COVID-19 crisis to deliver food and essential goods to vulnerable populations across the U.S. and continues to grow as it assists in connecting families and individuals to food and other items that were otherwise out of reach.

“Having the food delivered to my home is helpful because it is hard for me to get out,” said Marilyn Jones* of Mount Vernon, who has two school-aged children. “Thank you so much for providing this service.”

United Way Worldwide’s partnership with DoorDash and generous funding from donors including The Rockefeller Foundation and Safeway Stores’ Nourishing Neighbors program enables the free delivery of food boxes from local food banks or food pantries and other items in need to older adults, low-income families, and those who can’t or have challenges leaving home.

“No matter the reason—COVID restrictions, record unemployment, inflation, or a war in Europe – at least 40% of our neighbors live in poverty or paycheck-to-paycheck. Our Ride United Last Mile Delivery program helps alleviate one of life’s most important stressors so that families can work hard to lift themselves up,” said Tom Gabriel, CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. “We are proud to work with local agencies, food banks, and school districts to identify available food and other essential goods for people who can’t travel, and arrange for deliveries by DoorDash Dashers. Solving problems sustainably takes partnership, and by working together, we can make sure every person gets the support they need in this challenging time.”

In addition to providing accessibility and enhancing the organization’s existing services, the RULMD program offers a dignified approach for clients to receive items rather than waiting in lines for others to see. It also adds money to the local economy as the Dashers are paid for each delivery made.

UWWP partners with Feeding Westchester to organize the Westchester Backpack Program, which uses RULMD to deliver supplemental fresh produce and packaged food to 750 low-income families of school-aged children weekly. The food parcels include books and activities during the summer months to keep the children engaged and active. The Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon, the Elmsford School District, the Ossining School District, and the Peekskill School District are distribution hubs where DoorDash picks up the food parcels provided by Feeding Westchester.

Also, UWWP works with 18 other local organizations, including HOPE Community Services in New Rochelle, Eastchester Community Action Program (ECAP) in Tuckahoe, the City of Mount Vernon, Meals on Main Street in Port Chester, Caring for the Hungry and Homeless of Peekskill (CHHOP) in Peekskill, Family Services of Yonkers in Yonkers, Interfaith Emergency Food Pantry of Pleasantville in Thornwood, and more. Most organizations that utilize the RULMD program serve seniors, veterans, and low-income families with children.

“HOPE Community Services has benefitted incredibly from the RULMD Program,” said Anya Di Salvo, Pantry Manager at HOPE Community Services. “It has allowed us to serve over a hundred households who have been in quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus; made our Senior Grocery Delivery program possible, with monthly deliveries to various senior buildings in New Rochelle; and has just recently allowed for the incredible success of our first Passover Seder Meal Distribution, which provided around 600 meals to those in need for the upcoming holiday.”

Ana Costa, Youth Director at ECAP, agreed. “Eastchester Community Action Program Food Pantry has benefited tremendously from this program. Since our community has a large population of homebound and seniors that cannot make it to the pantry to receive their groceries monthly,” she said. “Thank you to United Way for developing this well-needed program.”

UWWP’s RULMD program completed 9,000 deliveries in 2020 and 30,000 deliveries in 2021. The organization continues to grow the program with new partners and adds new services.

*To protect the client’s privacy the individual’s name has been changed.

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