(WASHINGTON, D.C.)-- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Via, the company that provides digital infrastructure to power public mobility in cities across the world, and Genuine Foods, a high-volume, high-quality food service provider with operations across the East Coast, launched a partnership to support on-demand emergency meal kit delivery for charter school students in Washington, D.C, starting with Creative Minds International Public Charter School.
With schools closed across the D.C. metro area due to COVID-19, many children face food insecurity. Genuine Foods is focused on ensuring this vulnerable population receives healthy and nutritious meals at home, and has partnered with Via to introduce a technology-driven solution to support rapidly increasing demand, and to address driver supply shortages for emergency home delivery services.
The meal delivery program took shape in D.C. when Creative Minds International Public Charter School approached Genuine Foods about a food distribution partnership. Since switching to remote learning in March, Creative Minds had been looking to provide its students—and any other children in their households—with free meals on both weekdays and weekends, in a way that didn’t require families to leave their homes.
The service launched on April 15, with Via drivers delivering 170 meal kits to more than 70 Creative Minds families in just one day. Deliveries increased the second week of operation, and Via and Genuine Foods plan to scale the program to serve additional schools and children in the coming weeks. Creative Minds will continue to support its community with the free meal delivery program, the first-of-its kind in Washington, D.C., as long as the public health emergency is in effect.
Via’s advanced technology, originally developed to provide on-demand public transit solutions, is now being deployed to efficiently plan and route pickup and delivery of the weekly meal kits, including fresh produce prepared by Genuine Foods, and to facilitate driver support. Via runs an on-demand shared ride service in D.C. and is using its capabilities to serve the community in a time of need, and to provide new earning opportunities to its local driver base while many transit services are reduced. In addition, Via’s driver community is able to fill the gaps in supply needed to properly support the high demand for at-home meal delivery. Drivers helping with Genuine Foods delivery will simply log into the Via app and follow delivery instructions, with access to live Via support.
“As the coronavirus outbreak closed schools, we set up ‘Grab and Go’ stations to serve a week’s worth of meals to students, but quickly realized that we needed to adapt immediately to support the sharp increase in need for emergency meals in just the D.C. area alone,” said Jeff Mills, CEO of Genuine Foods. “Through our partnership with Via, we were able to rapidly pivot to a focus on home delivery powered by technology, which enables us to feed even more students in need, and to have the flexibility to react to the ongoing crisis in real time.”
“We are proud to work with Genuine Foods and excited to leverage Via’s technology to rapidly launch a meal delivery service that will feed students and families in Washington, D.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Daniel Ramot, CEO and co-founder of Via. “Through our partnership with Genuine Foods, we were able to introduce a flexible and efficient solution to both support emergency delivery of meals and provide further earnings opportunities for our driver partners.”
“A hallmark of the Creative Minds community is its strength. We are resilient and thoughtful in supporting one another, and in this unprecedented time, we are stepping up our support for families and students,” said Chuck Jackson, executive director of Creative Minds. “This wonderful free-meals delivery partnership with Genuine Foods and Via means that our students, and any other children who live with them, are well nourished every day, right at home. And we are helping to ease any financial burdens our families may be facing.”
Via is partnering with dozens of municipalities, public transit agencies, healthcare organizations, and nonprofits around the world, to support essential healthcare workers, to help utilize existing transit infrastructure during this time of emergency. In the D.C. area, Via is additionally partnering with the D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles to provide on-demand transportation for healthcare workers. Via’s emergency services include consulting to help quickly optimize transit networks to address immediate needs, and technology and operational expertise to help get essential workers where they need to go and to bring goods, pharmaceuticals, and services to people – where they are.
Genuine Foods was founded by Mills following his time as the Director of the Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS) for the Washington, D.C. public school system from January 2010 to January 2013. During his tenure at OFNS, to directly combat D.C. students’ high rates of food insecurity and obesity, Mills partnered with community, nonprofit and government stakeholders to re-engineer kitchen operations and revolutionize food offerings, playing an instrumental role in setting the nation’s highest standards for school nutrition.
About Genuine Foods:
Founded by nationally-recognized advocate for healthy public-school lunches and famed NYC restaurateur Jeff Mills, Genuine Foods is a provider of on-site wholesome, high-quality, nutritious meals. Genuine Foods meals are prepared from scratch using the freshest, seasonally-available produce and meats. Genuine Foods is Eat REAL® certified, a designation that recognizes their commitment to health, animal welfare and the health of the planet. Genuine Foods serves schools ranging from pre-schools to universities, senior centers and corporate offices across the country. Genuine Foods’ philosophy is that there is no substitute for delicious meals made from the finest ingredients. For more information, please visit www.genuinefoods.com.
Via is re-engineering public transit, from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. Via’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to seamlessly share a premium vehicle. First launched in New York City in September 2013, the Via platform operates in the United States and in Europe through its joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan. Via’s technology is also deployed worldwide through dozens of partner projects with public transportation agencies, private transit operators, taxi fleets, private companies, and universities, seamlessly integrating with public transit infrastructure to power cutting-edge on-demand mobility. For more information, visit www.platform.ridewithvia.com.
About Creative Minds International Public Charter School:
Creative Minds International Public Charter School prepares students in preschool through eighth grade for success and well-being in a globalized world. Its inclusive, arts-integrated, international program fosters creativity, self-motivation, social-emotional development, and academic excellence in a diverse community of students. Creative Minds is the only public charter school in the United States accredited to implement the holistic, research-based framework of the International Early Years, Primary, and Middle Years curriculums. The school is located in the historic Sherman Building on the campus of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. For press inquiries, please contact Margaret Ward, director of grants and development, at (202) 588-0370 x124 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Creative Minds at www.creativemindspcs.org.