Home-Delivered Groceries (HDG) is one of the flagship services our Food Bank offers, serving thousands of participants every week. HDG fills critical gaps in the food assistance landscape: it means that people who find it difficult or impossible to attend food pantries, like seniors or adults with disabilities, can still receive the fresh, nutritious groceries they need. “The produce is just wonderful,” shared Violet, a resident of the Richmond district and HDG participant. “It’s hard for me to lug vegetables home – they’re heavy, you know? And I don’t want to be a burden on my sons and their families.”
But HDG wasn’t always as robust as it is now. Thanks to partners like Cruise, we were able to quickly scale the service when shelter-in-place began in 2020. Their commitment to serving the community is moving us closer to providing food for all. We sat down with Cruise to hear more about our partnership.
Food Bank (FB): When and how did the partnership with the Food Bank come about?
Cruise: When the pandemic hit in early 2020, food insecurity skyrocketed across San Francisco. The number of people who needed support from the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank nearly doubled.
At Cruise, we started by simply asking how we could help. After talking with the Food Bank’s leadership, we committed part of our all-electric fleet of autonomous vehicles (AVs) to quickly scale the HDG program and aid in delivering groceries to those in need. What initially started as a crisis response program in 2020 has grown into a long-term community partnership – to date, we’ve delivered millions of meals with our AVs – and more than three years later, we’re honored to continue delivering these meals six days a week.
FB: What benefit have you seen to giving back to the community in this way?
Cruise: Our Cruise for Good partnerships have provided benefits for our community and our company. We’ve delivered over 2.5 million meals to local residents in need, particularly in underserved areas. We’re proud to directly be partnering with San Francisco-Marin Food Bank in a robust way – our teams work together on a daily basis to ensure we’re utilizing the best of our technology to meet a community need in bringing nutritious food to people in a way that fosters equity and dignity.
We’ve also learned through this process. Community partnerships have allowed us to tangibly see how our technology can be harnessed to directly meet the needs of our neighbors – and as a result, these partnerships have been a significant source of employee pride as well as provided operational learnings for our business.
FB: Cruise took the 1% Pledge, did your partnership with the Food Bank influence that decision in any way?
Cruise: Absolutely! Serving our communities is core to our mission, but it was this partnership that started in the pandemic that was pivotal for us in realizing our potential to meet urgent challenges in our community even while we were pre-commercial.
While this began organically, it is now core to how we operate. Cruise for Good is a formal program anchored by our Pledge 1% commitment to dedicate at least 1% of our fleet to serving the needs of our local communities.
FB: Cruise isn’t just working with the Food Bank, are there other ways you are engaging with the community?
Cruise: The hunger crisis also sits at the intersection of a climate crisis, with over 30 million Americans facing food insecurity, while food waste reaches record highs. Recently, we partnered with food rescue nonprofit, Replate, to launch a first-of-its-kind driverless, all-electric food rescue initiative to combat food insecurity, food waste, and climate change. Cruise’s AVs now deliver recovered meals from local restaurants and business to nonprofits serving those experiencing food insecurity.
In addition, millions of Americans don’t have access to reliable transportation, which in turn creates barriers to economic mobility. That’s why we extended our partnership with nonprofit SF New Deal to provide free rides to late-shift service workers here in San Francisco. In the first few months of this ridehail partnership, Cruise has provided hospitality workers with thousands of rides to workers who often have limited safe or affordable ways to get to and from work.
FB: September is Hunger Action Month, a time for people to step up to take tangible action to end Hunger. How would you encourage other companies to take action?
Cruise: Hunger Action Month is an important reminder: it’s up to all of us to take action to end hunger.At Cruise, social impact is in our DNA and embedded in our mission to build more sustainable, equitable, and accessible communities – so it’s natural that our employees have shown genuine enthusiasm for this partnership and many teams across Cruise have volunteered and even led fundraising campaigns for the Food Bank. Volunteering with San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is a simple but effective way for individuals to take action to combat food insecurity. We’d also love to see other companies at One Big Table, where we’ll come together as a community to fundraise to end hunger.
We encourage companies of all sizes to leverage their resources (employee time and talent, in-kind and financial donations) to support critical organizations like San Francisco-Marin Food Bank – and consider joining Pledge 1% to institutionalize these commitments.