Q: How does the matching Food Share work?

The Food Share app is an automated, online matching system with pre-programmed algorithms. The matches are based on the participants’ profiles.  Any licensed food business in the greater Birmingham area can donate food, any hunger relief organization can receive food, and volunteers can participate as Food Runners. The matching criteria includes: types of food, quantity, proximity, timing/availability, and transportation capacity. The software aggregates metrics so that we can report how much food is recovered.

Q: What are the advantages of using Food Share?

  • Partner Agencies receive more food and new types of food to supply to community members in need by matching with new Food Donors.
  • Partner Agencies receive free training for staff and volunteers on basic safe food handling.
  • Enhance an organization’s capacity to receive donated food using volunteer Food Runners.
  • Food Donors decrease the amount of food that is wasted.
  • Food Donors increase their visibility by being part of Food Share – one of the county’s first food recovery systems using this technology.
  • All participants can also have a significant impact on protecting our environment by recovering food that would have otherwise been discarded.

Q: What are the requirements to be a member of Food Share?

  • Food Donors must be licensed food businesses in good standing.
  • All participants must sign up using the phone app or web site and use it to post donations, receive donations, and/or volunteer. All volunteers must follow the Food Share safe food handling guidelines.
  • Volunteer Food Runners must review food safety guidelines and take a self-test to insure they know how to handle and transport food safely.
  • Volunteer Food Runners must have safe driving records and list their auto insurance company and policy number when registering.
  • All participants are asked to share their rescue success stories, photos, and content for newsletter articles to help strengthen the collective effort of Food Share as a whole.
  • All organizations are asked to promote your group’s participation as a member in Food Share within your networks, linking our publicity and information to your communication channels, and promoting events and opportunities to your networks.

Q: How long does it take to complete registration for each type of registrant (donor, recipient, and food runner)? What information is required to complete a profile?

  • We estimate about 15 minutes for each participant to create a login and complete their profile. It will be easier for you if you have collected information before signing on. If applicable, Food Donors will list their existing partner agencies and their regular run schedule for each organization. Partner Agencies will list details regarding their needs, including the timing and frequency of deliveries. Volunteer Food Runners will provide a copy of their drivers license and auto insurance details. If volunteers have a preference for particular donors and/or partner agencies, they need to have the names and locations of these participants.

Q: Can partner agencies sign up their Food Donors?

No, Food Donors must create their own login and profile to specify the types, quantities of food and schedule for donations. Encourage all donors to sign up through Food Share.

Q: What’s the sequence of matchmaking and scheduling a food run?

When a Food Donor schedules a food donation run, the app automatically matches a partner agency based on profiles. The Partner Agency must list on their profile when food can be received and whether they can pick it up. An email/text notification will go to the Partner Agency when that match is made. If the Partner Agency does not pick up the donation, then an email/text notification will go out to all the volunteer Food Runners whose profiles match the timing and location of the food run. When a scheduled food run has been assigned, the Food Donor will be notified.

Q: If Partner Agencies don’t want a particular food type (e.g., bread and pastries) can they specify this in their profile?

Yes, Partner Agencies and Food Donors check off food types they can donate/receive. Partner Agencies need to know that by eliminating categories, they reduce the opportunity for a Partner Agency to receive food donations. For example, if a Partner Agency doesn’t want bread or pastry, and the donor has bread along with other types of food, Food Share is more likely to match the donation with another organization that is willing to accept all food types.

Q: Is there a minimum food donation / amount?

Yes, it is 10 meals or 12 lbs. We encourage donors to aggregate and freeze amounts less than that and schedule a donation when they achieve this minimum.

Q: What if the Partner Agency is on vacation or the refrigerator breaks down and they can’t take delivery for a period of time?

Please notify the Food Share administrator so your organization can be temporarily taken off line and regular runs rerouted. Notify the Food Share administrator again when donations can resume.

Q: What’s the timing between when a match is made and a food run is fulfilled? In other words, how much time does a Partner Agency have to reject a food run?

The Partner Agency gets notified of a scheduled food run as soon as the volunteer accepts the run. The Partner Agency will automatically receive the donation unless they specifically reject it. If the Partner Agency doesn’t reject the run and food is delivered but no one is there to accept delivery, the volunteer Food Runner has a back-up Partner Agency to take it to.

Q: Can a Partner Agency request a volunteer Food Runner, but if no volunteer claims the run, can the partner agency still get the donation by picking it themselves?

The Partner Agency’s should also sign up their own staff or volunteers as Food Runners. They will be able to see if a food run is claimed by a volunteer Food Runner first, and if not, they can claim the food run and get it themselves.

Q: What happens if a donation is not picked up? What happens if a donation is offered late at night, and no one responds?

The Food Donor is advised to chill or freeze and store the donation until the next day, and post it again as a new donation. The Food Donor can also choose to take it to the Partner agency themselves.

Q: How is the amount of food that is donated recorded?

  • Food donations are entered by Food Donors when they schedule a food run. For regular, repeated runs with similar quantities and types of foods, donation information is entered one time and metrics are automatically captured about each run.
  • If food is donated as a one-time run, Food Donors post the types of food and quantities of each. Food run information is aggregated and includes Food Donor, partner agency, type of food, and quantity.
  • Food Donors enter this information in the Web app so that the data can be captured and aggregated. The administrator can run reports on the aggregated information.

Q: How can participants obtain information about how much food was donated/received? Can a Food Share participant make their own food reports?

  • Food Share administrators will run aggregated reports at the end of the calendar year and upon request from any participant.
  • Unfortunately the Web app does not allow participants to run their own reports in this version. We will add this function to our wish list as a future enhancement.

Q: What are post-delivery tasks, and how long does it take for participants to complete them?

Magic City Harvest wants each food run experience to be a good one, so we ask each participant to rate the experience, similar to a Yelp-type rating. Each participant will use the website to rate their satisfaction and can also offer suggestions for improvement. This feedback will benefit all participants and Magic City Harvest as a system.

Q: What is the plan to get the word out about the new Web app to participants?

  • Magic City Harvest will enlist “Food Share recruiters” who will contact Food Donors, Partner Agencies, and volunteers Food Runners from all over the greater Birmingham area to tell them about Food Share.
  • We will promote Food Share through our current partner agencies and area resources. We will promote the activities through our website, E-newsletters, and social media.