GROVE CITY, Ohio (WCMH) – A pilot program is tackling hunger in Central Ohio for seniors. The Mid-Ohio Food Collective (MOFC) is leveraging Amazon’s delivery resources to bring food assistance directly to doorsteps.
“It can be harder for [seniors] to either buy groceries or just get to a pantry, depending on if they’re still able to drive or have access to a vehicle,” said Malik Perkins, the public relations manager for MFOC. “Being able to just have those goods delivered to them, it really just makes a difference.”
The demand for food assistance, sparked by financial strain during the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to skyrocket at MOFC. Since the pandemic began, the organization has served more than 230,000 households. More than a third of those customers were using a food pantry for the first time.
“The demand for food is still high and we expect that to last for the next 3 to 5 years,” Perkins said.
In addition to serving demand at its on-site warehouse pantry and partner agencies, MFOC began partnering with Amazon in March of this year. Amazon Flex drivers, who use their own vehicles and create their own schedules, deliver groceries directly to seniors in the pilot area.
“They’re typically, of course, delivering products to Amazon customers that live in the area. But in this case, we’re able to tap that network,” explained Jessica Pawl, an Amazon spokesperson.
Bob Way, an Amazon Flex driver, added, “Most of the time when you deliver, you don’t see the people. A lot of it is drop and run. But it’s nice to know you’re helping. If somebody needs help, then they’re getting it.”
Since the pilot program started, it’s served more than 54,000 meals to 300 seniors. In 2022, MFOC hopes to double the efforts.
“We always say that we have to innovate and meet people where they are. Just by solving some of these problems and addressing some of these challenges, we feel like this just continues our efforts to end hunger,” Perkins said.
Since March 2020, Amazon has supported food banks and community organizations with free, contactless food delivery to vulnerable groups. The deliveries now total more than 20 million meals to underserved families, vulnerable seniors, and school children in more than 25 U.S. cities and in communities across Australia, Japan, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K.
The delivery service is only available in a select area of Columbus. If you need resources or would like to learn more about MFOC, click on this link.