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Written by Matthew Rickard
on April 22, 2020

“More than 30 countries in the developing world could experience widespread famine, and in 10 of those countries there are already more than 1 million people on the brink of starvation, said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme.

“We are not talking about people going to bed hungry,” he told the Guardian in an interview. “We are talking about extreme conditions, emergency status – people literally marching to the brink of starvation. If we don’t get food to people, people will die.”

As the lockdown continues and more people than ever find themselves working from home, organisations are increasingly needing to be creative and adjust their business models to fit the new norm.

One area we are seeing that’s been significantly disrupted is food banks. Many food banks operate with policies requiring physical assessment and verification of those in need, before food and other essentials are distributed.

In addition, operational models requiring people to gather centrally and queue to get food and support works against social distancing objectives.

Food banks are fast becoming a vital resource to support the current relief effort, as more people find themselves in need of supplies to get them through the next few months. Just this week The Guardian reported that more than 30 countries in the developing world could experience widespread famine due to the knock on effect of the virus.

Solving food bank processes with Task

Case study in Mustafabad, New Delhi

Task CEO Steve with Mohd (right) and Mohit (left) in Delhi  January 2020

One of the team at Task, Shoaib Malik (Mohd), is managing a volunteer food bank initiative in Mustafabad, India, along with a large number people in his friend and local community networks.

Mohd and his team started building a community on WhatsApp to help people in need of support as well as gain donations from others inside the community.

Limitations of the WhatsApp group

At small scale, the WhatsApp group works - but soon shows problems that reduce the impact of the initiative:

  • When food requests were added to the group, Mohd and his small team would then have to phone each food request to complete an assessment, creating bottlenecks and taking up a lot of their time.
  • Managing donations at the same time, and trying to update the donors with some reporting was tricky, especially when mixed in with the conversations around food requests.
  • Donations were being taken manually which works well for direct local support, but not for expanding support through (for example) local businesses or people outside of the community.

Food delivery without crowds

Mohd's operational model already dealt with the dangers of people gathering in queues - first they provide "food packs" that will feed a family in isolation for 10 days and delivered it to recipients houses, but also Task makes it easy for food request and evaluations to be done remotely without physical contact - and gets the food delivered without the need for crowds to gather.

Increased efficiency & safety, more donations - How?

We worked with Mohd to create a new process using Task:

  • Expanded identification of those in need – People in need, volunteers on the ground, or community members in general are able to use the Task mobile app to provide a structured food support request. It's easy to do, and grabs essential information such as the recipients geo-location.
  • Quick and safe verification - The requests are now sent to a group of remote based administrators who verify and approve the requests. Thanks to the structured data received, phone calls are seldom needed and verification is done in a few seconds.
  • Automated delivery organisation - When a request is accepted, Task creates a delivery order along with address assigned to the team member who will be taking ownership of getting the supplies the the beneficiary.
  • Deliveries are tracked – The volunteers know where they should be going and can quickly check off a delivery to a beneficiary automating reporting.
  • Donors kept up to date – As funds are used and deliveries completed, donors view realtime updates of whats happening. This helps to maintain ongoing support and increase funding.

By utilising a free account in Task the Mustafabad Community Initiative For Those In Need been able to automate and make more efficient, many of the operational processes that are required to operated by a food bank. 

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Mustafabad Community Initiative For Those In Need

How can you help?

How can Task help you?

If you run a food bank or a similar operation that could benefit from this type of online automation, Task has tools that allow you to replicate the project at the click of a button. We would love to support you and increase your success in looking after people in need.

If you’d like to know more please contact us at hello@task.io.

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