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Salesforce and Eat. Learn. Play. Announce Pilot Program to Combat Food Insecurity and Help Families, Farms and Schools Thrive During COVID-19

Eat learn play partnership

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our food system and magnified already-existing inequalities. Not only has the pandemic amplified food insecurity faced by the students and families who rely on schools for daily meals, it has impacted farms across the country, who are now dealing with excess waste and an unstable supply chain from restaurant closures.

To tackle these issues, Salesforce and Eat. Learn. Play. today announced a pilot program to bring together these two communities in need—connecting families with fresh food from farms and helping ensure that food does not go to waste. The goal of the pilot is to source more than 300 tons of farm produce from local, minority-owned farms, including excess food that would otherwise go to waste, and deliver over 30,000 boxes of food to low-income families at school pickup sites and home deliveries.

Local, farm fresh food ready for distribution

“Food insecurity is one of the many devastating inequities magnified by COVID-19,” said Ebony Beckwith, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Salesforce. “Our partnership with Eat. Learn. Play. represents how we can come together during a crisis to support vulnerable communities with innovative solutions that deliver both immediate relief and long-term impact.”

“This moment has clearly demonstrated the need for all of us to have a holistic approach to food security. We are proud to be doing our part in the pilot program, alongside Salesforce, the Oakland Unified School District and all of the other partners involved, to begin to lay the foundation for a new approach to getting fresh farm produce to our children and families in Oakland,” said Jose Corona, Vice President, Programs & Partnerships at Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation. “We start with sourcing from farmers who have been historically disconnected by traditional supply chains, and deliver the food in a manner that meets families where they are.”

Eight weeks ago, Salesforce volunteers reached out to local school districts to understand what new challenges they faced due to COVID-19 and how to support. It was clear that schools were becoming a source of relief to many families in the community in response to the surge in unemployment due to COVID-19. Schools are now distributing 10% or more of their meals to adults in addition to students. For example, OUSD has delivered 12% of their 2.7M meals to adults, or 324,000 adult meals, since the start of COVID and school closures.

“This is an exciting and much-needed project that Eat. Learn. Play. and Salesforce have created,” said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “No good food should go to waste, and the people who need it, especially now, should receive this bounty of farm fresh foods. Here in OUSD, more than 70% of our students qualify for free and reduced price lunches during the best of times. Of course, the pandemic and shelter in place have made those challenges exponentially worse. Bringing in these foods that might otherwise go to waste will support our families who need it, and it will complement the amazing work our nutrition services staff and volunteers have been doing since mid-March. I thank Salesforce and Eat. Learn. Play. for always being there for our students and families.”

The program, which kicked off in June with support from Oakland Unified School District, also includes key operational partners World Central Kitchen, Numi Foundation and Full Harvest to manage farm inventory, processing and distribution. Salesforce is investing $400,000 in Eat. Learn. Play. to support the program.

This partnership leverages applications built on Salesforce technology—including a food marketplace app from Full Harvest, built on Salesforce Heroku, and a Food Distribution app built rapidly by a team of volunteers at Salesforce.

In the first two weeks of launch, the program sourced and delivered more than 100,000 pounds of fresh farm produce to more than 7,000 mostly Black, LatinX and minority families within the Oakland Unified School District. This program employed 26 people for boxing and deliveries – 90% of these employees are Oakland parents and 75% have been left with no other income due to the pandemic.

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