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Addressing the Need and Identifying the Root Causes of the Intersection of Food and Transportation Insecurity: The City of Detroit Food Delivery Program (Re)Design

The project: The COVID-19 pandemic is creating conditions in Detroit and across the country that have led to novel cases of need at the intersection of food and transportation insecurity. In response, the City of Detroit’s Parks & Recreation Division and Innovation Team, in partnership with Gleaners, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, Detroit Health Department, University of Michigan, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, and other community stakeholders, created and expanded the COVID-19 Food Delivery Program. The volunteer-based program delivered prepared meals to Detroiters experiencing food insecurity who lacked access to adequate transportation.

The process: The researchers’ data analysis found approximately 20,800 Detroit households are classified as food insecure. The COVID-19 Food Delivery Program served 350 households by July 31, 2020; over 1,000 unique individuals were served over 90,000 meals. By June 28, 2022, more than 400,000 meals have been delivered to over 3,000 Detroiters. Researchers assisted in identifying residents in need of the food delivery service and analyzed survey data to better understand Detroiters’ experiences of food insecurity.

Results: Researchers supported the COVID-19 Food Delivery Program’s maintenance and the (re)design, implementation, and program evaluation of the (re)design. Their recommendations helped to secure resources to double the program’s capacity and sustain its implementation till 2024.

Robert Hampshire, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
H.V. Jagadish, College of Engineering
Gbolahan (Tayo) Fabusuyi, Transportation Research Institute
Aditi Misra, Transportation Research Institute