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Pilot Program to Improve Food Access for Chicago Residents with Disabilities

Three community partners have joined forces to increase food access for Chicago residents that have disabilities. The Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities (MOPD), Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC) and the Thierer Family Foundation, an organization helping nonprofits increase their impact through technology, initiated the Vivery Idea Lab in-home delivery pilot to provide access to nutritious food for high-risk, challenging-to-serve populations in the City who may experience barriers to accessing food options.

Vivery Idea Lab from the Thierer Family Foundation is an incubator focused on testing, validating and scaling customizable solutions to increase access to nutritious food. This pilot, leveraging the Vivery platform, includes an in-home delivery solution that fills a critical need in food insecurity for homebound individuals with disabilities, who face tremendous challenges in accessing regular and nutritious food. Through a collaboration with nearby pantries and a community produce supplier, these individuals will receive monthly shelf stables, perishables and fresh produce, all delivered in-home by a local delivery service. This pilot will help further integrate the City of Chicago as a partner into the emergency food response ecosystem, by providing an easy and adaptable digital tool to connect with and serve the disability community.

“I appreciate the partnership and efforts between the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities, the Community Safety Coordination Center and the Thierer Family Foundation to create a pathway for food equity, especially for our residents who are living with a disability,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “The new Vivery Idea Lab pilot will help eliminate such barriers to access through in-home food delivery services, pantries and community suppliers, who will help create a support network that better uplifts our most vulnerable residents.”

The Community Safety Coordination Center works with City departments and sister agencies to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach to addressing the root causes of violence across Chicago. This program is part of their people-based strategy.

food access, delivery

Increasing Food Access

“Working to combat food insecurity in communities that have been historically disinvested in is a key component of addressing community safety through a public health framework,” said Gregorio Martinez, Interim Chief Coordination Officer at the CSCC. “This pilot reflects the city’s commitment to coordinate services in neighborhoods that need it most.”

The Vivery Idea Lab in-home delivery pilots are validating innovative ways to provide a sustainable, fully-funded and supported solution for in-home delivery so everyone, regardless of their circumstance, can have access to food. With the Vivery in-home delivery system in place, pantries are able to identify the most efficient routes to reach those individuals, saving time and increasing capacity, and recipients can get a level of personal support they didn’t have previously through this high-touch delivery service.

“By partnering with the Mayor’s office and other visionary leaders in our local community, we can test new and big ideas that hold the promise of significantly impacting access to food,” said Nasrin Thierer, Founder of Thierer Family Foundation. “When public and private forces partner together, it means we can really scale these efforts and make them sustainable.”

The Vivery Idea Lab’s pilot programs have made more than 500 deliveries to date. The partnership with the MOPD and CSCC aims to enhance this further as it targets up to 2,000 deliveries to 150 individuals in the Austin community, providing them with consistent access to food from pantries closest to them for six months. To learn more about, or to support these in-home delivery pilots, visit Vivery Idea Lab.

Could this effort inspire other cities to also help increase food access for residents that have disabilities? Let’s hope so.

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