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Arkansas nonprofits help fund program to deliver food to those in need

Also joining in on the mission are people who are no strangers to delivering meals— DoorDash drivers.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Food insecurity is an issue for many families across the state, but in Northwest Arkansas, help could be just a delivery away.

Saint James Missionary Baptist Church (STJBC) in Fayetteville is one of six nonprofits partnering with Arkansas 211 and United Way of Northwest Arkansas in the Ride United: Last Mile Delivery program.

The program aims to cover the 'last mile' for families who don't have access to transportation to get the food they need.

STJBC Director of Outreach and Community Engagement Monique Jones says she wanted to provide a way for community members to select items they need each week.

“We have a platform that we work with called OrderAhead,” Jones said.

“They can actually go on the platform and choose fruits, vegetables, produce, protein, bread, dry goods, canned goods, grains … It's similar to Walmart ordering ahead, but there's no cost to it.”

Also joining in on the mission are people who are no strangers to delivering meals— DoorDash drivers.

“Anyone in Washington and or Benton County that has issues with food insecurity within 10 miles, we can deliver to with DoorDash,” Jones said.

To pay the drivers who complete these deliveries, DoorDash donates half the cost of the delivery fee, and Arkansas 211 covers the other half.

Vice President of Business Development for United Way and Arkansas 211 Christina Hinds says this all began as a pilot project last year.

“That pilot program allowed me to apply for additional funding we just received from the Walmart Foundation for $100,000 to support six of our nonprofit partners in Northwest Arkansas,” Hinds said.

The money from the grant will allow the program to provide more than 12,000 free food deliveries to families over the next year.

“I’m so excited that we'll be able to do this continuously to serve our community members that have barriers on access to transportation and access to good and healthy options for food,” Jones said.

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