Research Report Connecting People with Charitable Food through New Home Delivery Partnerships
Insights from DoorDash’s Project DASH
Elaine Waxman, Poonam Gupta, Kassandra Martinchek, Paige Sonoda, Noah Johnson
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Specific populations such as older adults, those with chronic health conditions or mobility limitations, and those lacking reliable access to transportation, face outsized barriers to accessing charitable food in person. The COVID-19 pandemic shed new light on these barriers, as antihunger organizations scrambled to offer home delivery to those in need. To meet the increasing needs, DoorDash expanded its partnerships with antihunger organizations to deliver food directly to clients and improve access to charitable food through its program, Project DASH. By the end of 2022, more than 300 nonprofit antihunger organizations were collaborating with Project Dash.

The Urban Institute evaluated the effectiveness of Project DASH’s home delivery partnerships. In this report, we analyze survey responses from approximately 400 home delivery clients, largely from the San Francisco Bay Area, alongside a survey of all Project DASH antihunger organization partners and several interviews with partner staff and home delivery clients. We find the following:

  • Home delivery removed food access barriers by helping the majority (97.8 percent) of clients save money and by providing charitable food to 78.4 percent of clients who faced chronic health conditions and mobility challenges.
  • Home delivery filled food access gaps, as less than half (44.0 percent) of respondents reported receiving charitable food before receiving home delivery was available.

Home delivery clients identified communication challenges, as Project DASH partners primarily serve older adults who may struggle to communicate on the app-driven platform. Additionally, over a third of clients reported receiving communication that was not in their language.

Looking ahead, home delivery is a key solution to connect clients with charitable food. Three in four (72.4 percent) of antihunger organizations reported that home delivery enabled them to scale their efforts and reach more clients. However, sustainable funding is critical to enabling home delivery capacity, and almost all (96.6 percent) of antihunger organizations cited lack of funding as a barrier to maintaining or expanding their service. To reach those unable to access charitable food in person, nonprofits will need to identify longer-term, sustainable funding sources, including philanthropy, government funding streams, and subsidies from private sector delivery services.

Research Areas Social safety net Disability equity policy
Tags Food insecurity and hunger Emergency food networks Hunger and food assistance
Policy Centers Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population Income and Benefits Policy Center
States California
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