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Analysis of a Food Bank Home Delivery Program

Start Date: September 2022
Funding: Urban@UW
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Giacomo Dalla Chiara

Food security, defined as access at all times to nutritious food, is a necessary condition for human beings to thrive and have an active and healthy life. In Seattle, about 13 percent of adults experienced food insecurity. Moreover, food security is not equitably distributed across the population. Food insecurity is more common in households with young children, with single parents, with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold, in Black and Hispanic populations, and in principal metropolitan areas. Hunger relief organizations, such as food banks, play a key role in redistributing food to those experiencing food insecurity. However, a share of the food-insecure population could not be reached by this system. In particular, people who are immobile, immunocompromised, and elderly are not able to access the food bank network. The University District Food Bank, serving the northeast neighborhoods of Seattle, started a home delivery program 10 years ago, where volunteers pick up groceries at the food bank and deliver them to households in need, and largely expanded it during the pandemic. While volunteers were initially performing deliveries using cars or vans, the program was expanded through a collaboration with the Cascade Bicycle Club, a non-profit bike advocacy organization.

For this work, the project team proposes a collaboration between young junior scholars at the Urban Freight Lab (UFL) with expertise in the study of last-mile urban distribution systems, the University District Food Bank, and the Cascade Bicycle Club. This grant will enable UFL researchers to perform preliminary research, to better understand the challenges in the last-mile distribution of food from food banks and identify operational improvements to increase the efficiency of the system.

Project Team Members:

  • Giacomo Dalla Chiara (PI): Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Urban Freight Lab
  • Travis Fried (Collaborator): Research Assistant, Urban Freight Lab
  • Maxwell Burton (Collaborator): PRP & Volunteer Community Engagement Project Manager, Cascade Bicycle Club
  • Joe Gruber (Collaborator): Executive Director, University District Food Bank