MILFORD, Del. - At a brief ceremony Thursday morning, Amazon presented a check for $50,000 to the Food Bank of Delaware.
That money will be important for the food bank as demand for food assistance increases as we head into the colder months and the holiday season.
"If you're hungry today, there's something else going on," said Cathy Kanefsky, President and CEO of the Food Bank of Delaware. "so we have a lot of different programs that we work with people to help them get to the point where they can sustain a healthy life."
The food bank plans to use the money to bolster its food supplies, but more food is useless without being able to get it into the hands of folks who need it.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, food banks were no longer able to do face-to-face distributions of food, which made food distribution more difficult at a time when suddenly more people found themselves in need. This taxed food banks' distribution systems.
Amazon began a program with the Food Bank of Delaware in March of 2020 to have its flex drivers deliver food boxes.
Flex delivery drivers are sometimes compared to Uber or Lyft for companies like Amazon. They are not employees of Amazon, but notify Amazon when they are available to do deliveries, and if there is a need, Amazon will send the driver to an Amazon warehouse where they will pick up packages for delivery.
This allowed for contactless delivery of food, and saved the food bank the money they would need to spend to deliver the food themselves.
The new program quickly found some unmet needs in the community.
"They're at a job, or they're doing something during the day and not able to get to us," Kanefsky said of folks who often found themselves working multiple jobs while still struggling to feed their families.
Using Amazon flex delivery drivers to deliver the food boxes also reached folks in need who worried about stigma associated with seeking help, by making the deliveries more discreet.
"You know, who doesn't have an Amazon delivery person in their neighborhood just about every day?
Despite being more anonymous a food delivery system than a program like Meals on Wheels, flex drivers like Michael Ludden have enjoyed the experience of getting to know neighbors in his community.
"After you do it for a while, you get routes that you'll repeat customers," Ludden said. "Then you have an opportunity they'll come out and greet you and you have an opportunity to deal with them one-on-one, so you find out some interesting stories on the way."
The Food Bank of Delaware wants to help all families in need ensure they can put nutritious food on the table this holiday season and beyond. To learn more about how to apply and qualify for deliveries and other programs from the food bank, visit the Food Bank of Delaware online.