A New Approach to Feeding Hungry Families
While each step of the supply chain is important, there is none more pressing than delivering through the “Last Mile of Need.”
Due to the many challenges of the pandemic we know the health and economic impact of COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on millions of Americans who lack basic necessities in their homes including food, clothes, and essential household items.
Over the past four-plus months as we’ve adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has increased in the United States. “Food insecurity for U.S. households last week reached its highest reported level since the Census Bureau started tracking the data in May, with almost 30 million Americans reporting that they’d not had enough to eat at some point in the seven days through July 21.” (Bloomberg). Many have watched the television news coverage of desperate people waiting in long food lines all day for a few boxes of food. However, the story that is rarely shown is of the multitudes of families and individuals residing in the most critical leg of the supply chain—“Last Mile of Need.”
The “Last Mile of Need” Defined
This metaphorical region defines a subgroup of people with food needs that are often unmet for a variety of reasons. The federal government and most nonprofits admit there are significant gaps of unmet need mostly due to limited program capacity. You likely know someone who has fallen between the gaps: the homebound elderly man, the family who cannot afford gas for their already unreliable car, the single mother quarantined with her children, or the college student trapped at home with underlying health conditions. Though government assistance programs and food bank “truck to trunk” events play a vital role, simply put, there is no “Plan B” to serve those living in the gap.
Individuals and families in the “Last Mile of Need” share, but are not limited to, one or more of the following challenges:
- Unable to get to food lines due to health or lack of dependable transportation
- Lack of awareness of available feeding programs
- Household resources are insufficient, but its scarcity is not enough to qualify for assistance
A New Approach: The CityServe Distribution Model
Understanding this challenge, CityServe and its partners came together to meet this need on a national scale. A HUB/POD distribution model has proven most effective in serving families and has surpassed 3 million USDA Farmers to Families food boxes distributed through the “Last Mile of Need.” Suppliers of the program have committed over 3 million food boxes a month to CityServe and its partners to funnel through the distribution model.
The CityServe distribution model is based on a HUB & POD supply chain.
- A CityServe HUB is a church with the capacity and space to be a distribution center of household goods, furniture, and food to local churches, also known as PODs (point of distribution), in its geographical region.
- A POD is a local church in agreement with and trained by CityServe to receive resources from its assigned HUB and meet the needs of its neighborhood with compassionate giving and relationship building.
- In many instances, we’re developing franchised affiliates across different geographical regions who operate in conjunction with the HUB & POD distribution model to eradicate the “Last Mile of Need.”
- There are real costs associated with delivering through the “Last Mile of Need.” When implementing HUBs & PODs, CityServe assumes all transportation and refrigeration expenses, allowing churches to join the collaborative community with no monetary memberships costs or fees.
Check pastorresources.com for part 2 of How Churches Are Filling the Gaps in the “Last Mile of Need”
Dave Donaldson & Pastor Wendell Vinson