Breaking Barriers, Changing Lives: A Bridge to End Food Insecurity with E-commerce and AI Messaging
Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, reported that 53 million people turned to food programs in 2021. Unfortunately, the number of HROs (Hunger Relief Organizations) is limited, with an average of less than 5 HROs per 100,000 people and 7 per 1000 square miles, as highlighted in a recent 12-state study. Additionally, only 16% of all census tracts have at least one HRO, with smaller faith-based pantry locations making up approximately 65% of them. Through our partnership with KLaunch, experts in conversational AI, chatbots, and experiential mobile messaging, BlueSky has gained valuable insights into the issue of food insecurity in America as we strive to build solutions to meet this challenge head on.
The Challenges of Food Insecurity for HROs
Among the many challenges faced by HROs is reaching more food insecure neighbors with their services, getting those neighbors qualified and aware of the programs available to them, and more importantly wrap around services to become more food secure. Many HROs have limited availability to fulfill requests for donated food through delivery and pick up. Add to this that nearly all HROs currently do not have the capability to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, resulting in limited access to nutritious food beyond the donated food they often provide under TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program). As a consequence, HROs feel like they are on a “treadmill” to secure funding for new and expanded programs to support their communities. Since many families and individuals in need do not have access to high speed internet or at home computing, HROs struggle reaching their neighbors with timely and useful information. As a result of the challenges listed above, food-insecure households often rely on convenience stores that predominantly offer higher-priced, less nutritious options. This creates a pressing need to bridge the gap between donated food and sellable food.
Case Study: Gleaners Community Food Bank
One notable example of progress in addressing food insecurity is the collaboration between KLaunch and Gleaners Community Food Bank in Indiana. Gleaners distributes food to over 400 partner soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and other agencies in the region. In the fiscal year 2022 alone, Gleaners distributed more than 47 million pounds of food to those in need. Leveraging KLaunch’s conversational messaging solution, Gleaners has seen significant improvements, including a 30% reduction in overall calls, an 84% response rate for seniors, and an opt-out rate of only 0.001%. Furthermore, their partnership facilitated an 18% response rate for wrap-around services, such as vaccine clinics through Walgreens, and over 18,000 users responded positively to the system. Notably, 98.2% of SNAP deliveries were successfully made, and 78% of SNAP users followed the suggested recipe advice offered.
Building on these success stories, BlueSky and KLaunch are working together to create a transformative solution called FoodBridge. FoodBridge is a fully enabled SNAP commerce ecosystem that combines scalable technology and resources to support the efforts of HROs like Gleaners and the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB), as well as the entire food bank network across the country. This platform serves as both a commerce infrastructure, providing API connectivity for partners, and a vertically integrated system that allows for a direct-to-consumer experience. By accepting SNAP and other revenue-generating forms of food assistance, FoodBridge aims to ensure the financial sustainability of HROs and improve access to nutritious food for food-insecure households.
Addressing Key Challenges
FoodBridge addresses five major challenges faced by the food insecure:
- Improving Access: The platform allows more people to take advantage of HROs through flexible fulfillment options, combating the prevalence of food deserts.
- Increasing Adoption: Through conversational AI messaging, FoodBridge simplifies the qualification process for food assistance, making it easier for neighbors in need to access the help they require.
- Creating Connectivity: FoodBridge connects a network of HROs, enabling resource sharing and streamlining the supply chain, ultimately reaching more communities.
- Driving Efficiency: With technology-driven solutions, operations within HROs improve, allowing them to fulfill more orders, allocate resources effectively, and reach more communities in need.
- Creating a Path to Sustainability: By accepting SNAP and other revenue-generating forms of food assistance, HROs can achieve financial stability, ensuring their long-term impact in combating food insecurity.
FoodBridge represents a significant step towards combating food insecurity by leveraging the power of e-commerce and AI messaging. With its potential to improve access, increase adoption, create connectivity, drive efficiency, and pave the way for sustainability, FoodBridge offers hope for a future where no one goes hungry. Through the collaboration of organizations like BlueSky, KLaunch, Gleaners, ACFB, and the entire food bank network, we can collectively work towards a world where nutritious food is accessible to all, regardless of their circumstances. Join BlueSky, KLaunch along with experts from HROs and the AgScience industry for a conversation on this important topic on June 9th. To sign up for free, click here. To obtain a VIP pass with exclusive access and offers, click here.
Chief Strategy Officer | BlueSky Commerce
Kevin has driven social causes in the fight against hunger, including his time as President of a US-based retail operation that delivered nearly 20M meals to children in need in the US and India under his leadership.