New program unites online grocery shopping and food assistance

A box of produce.
March 10, 2022
by Paul Morello

Over the past few years, we’ve all had to get creative about how we buy our groceries. For some, that has meant shopping at different times than we normally would to avoid crowds. Others order groceries online and pick them up at the store. Some have groceries delivered. Regardless of how you’re getting groceries these days, everyone’s had to adapt to make sure they still have access to food.

And, that’s no different for people facing hunger. Unfortunately, those barriers to food access are often more challenging for our neighbors with a limited income. Sometimes, people facing hunger don’t have the means to get to the grocery store or it may be too far away. Still others may be hesitant to visit a food pantry in person. Feeding America is working to break down those barriers for people who need food. And one way we’re doing that is with a new program called OrderAhead.

What is OrderAhead?

OrderAhead is a convenient way for people facing hunger to order free groceries online, and pick them up at a location they choose. Or, in some markets, have the food delivered right to their door. The program helps break down some of the barriers to accessing food for folks facing hunger, especially people like seniors who may not be able to get to a grocery store or pantry easily.

How does OrderAhead work?

Users visit orderahead.org and click “get started” in the corner. If users are uncertain about their eligibility, they should contact their local food bank.  After choosing a pickup time and location, visitors can shop for available groceries. The process is very similar to other online grocery apps, except with OrderAhead there is no cost. After checking out, users get a confirmation email, and then can go pick up their groceries (or have them delivered) at the set time.

What’s the impact of OrderAhead?

Feeding America launched the pilot program back in October 2020. Since then, 26 food banks have provided food to nearly 54,000 people. Overall, more than 1.3 million pounds of food has been distributed through almost 40,000 orders. 

How can I help?

  • Educate yourself. Learn more about how Feeding America is connecting people facing hunger with the food they need.
  • Spread the word. Share information about OrderAhead on social media. Or, help us raise awareness of food assistance in your area by linking to our food bank finder.
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