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MEANS Database and the GCRF

The organization, which has received support from the Grubhub Community Relief Fund (GCRF), is using data science to connect people who are food insecure with local organizations that have an excess of food.

Each month, we’ll be sharing stories of our Grubhub Community Relief Fund beneficiaries, highlighting how they are using their grants to positively impact their communities. This month, we’re spotlighting MEANS Database, a food rescue nonprofit organization that leverages its database to connect food pantries and soup kitchens with enterprises that have an excess of food.

Grubhub + MEANS

With support from the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, MEANS (Matching Excess And Need for Stability) has been able to provide tens of thousands of their neighbors in communities across the country with delicious meals served with the dignity they deserve, all while supporting small local businesses that are facing unprecedented economic challenges. 

MEANS’ mission is to feed food-insecure people in communities by recovering excess food that would have otherwise gone to waste. Prior to receiving support from the GCRF, MEANS was focused on recovering meals and food that had already been produced. But with support from the fund, they have been able to expand their operations by proactively purchasing healthy meals from small businesses impacted by COVID-19, and delivering them, free-of-charge, to nearby soup kitchens, food pantries, and other emergency food providers. To date, MEANS and Grubhub have been able to purchase and distribute more than 270,000 meals that have gone to 60 nonprofits in the following cities: Philadelphia, Chicago, Providence, Las Vegas, Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

How it all Started

MEANS’ co-founder and executive director, Maria Rose Belding, began building the MEANS Database as a teenager, after noticing communication challenges facing nonprofits and the hungry people they serve. Belding, who had spent years volunteering in her rural Iowa church’s food pantry, knew first-hand that bridging the gap between these two groups would help alleviate hunger for more people in need. MEANS enables nonprofits to request supplies they need and allows businesses with excess food, such as grocery stores or restaurants, to share what they have available to give away. When there is a match, the database automatically connects both parties. By developing a centralized location to efficiently and effectively connect emergency food providers with excess food, MEANS was able to scale nationally in 2015 and has been growing ever since.

MEANS’ Work Today

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, MEANS’ partner nonprofits across the United States have been reporting huge increases in the number of people seeking help with groceries and meals. In some communities, this equates to a 150% increase in demand, and in others, the increase is as high as 400%. Across the board, COVID-19 has caused an enormous spike in need for emergency food services, and the GCRF has enabled MEANS to scale and meet the increased demand. 

Across the country, MEANS’ nonprofit partners have been incredibly grateful for consistent support. After distributing meals from HATCH Yakitori in Los Angeles, Pastor Kelvin Sauls, the meal coordinator at Peace Chapel Church, shared that families have noted how the partnership has helped them try new things saying “When I delivered dinners to houseless neighbors on Monday, one family said, ‘I thought Japanese food was only about sushi. You all have broadened my horizons in a healthy way. I look forward to your visit with us on Wednesdays. Thank you so much!’”

The MELT in Los Angeles is another one of the restaurants Grubhub and MEANS have partnered with to source meals from, and was unsure if they’d be able to keep its doors open given the reduced foot traffic its seen due to COVID-19 safety measures. With consistent weekly orders from Grubhub and MEANS partnership, they’ve been able to keep its doors open and continue serving local members of the community.

To learn more about MEANS Database and donate to its efforts, click here