Tangelo was engaged by a large county to support nutrition insecure populations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The County was armed with $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds and needed to distribute those funds to the most vulnerable members of its community within just six short weeks.
The challenge: An analog system and a tight turnaround
The most vulnerable residents of the County were hit hard by the financial impacts of the pandemic and lockdowns — people needed help, fast!
The funds being provided also had restrictions on them — they needed to be distributed within six weeks. And there was a four-week lead time from the announcement of the funds to when they needed to be launched!
Not only was it a tight timeline, it also happened to fall over November and December, spanning the major holiday season – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
19 CBOs (Community-Based Organizations) were recruited to enroll diverse members of the community across various demographics. These CBOS were a direct line to the most vulnerable in the County.
But several factors made this seem like an impossible task if run using traditional methods:
- Lockdown restrictions in place meant vulnerable members of the community couldn’t be expected to line up outside of CBOs to register for the benefits.
- One eligibility requirement for the benefits was to show proof of county residency (i.e. a driver’s license, utility bill, etc.) to receive the benefit. Since all funds had to be distributed within six weeks, thousands of proof of residency documents would have had to be emailed or mailed in to be verified. Non-eligible and eligible members would have had to be contacted and managed while benefits were mailed out.
- Benefits would have had to be redeemed at grocery stores — sending the most vulnerable members of the community out of their homes to gather in a public place while being advised to stay at home.
- The sophistication of operational coordination, in such a short period of time, with the funding requirements in mind, left an enormous amount of room for error. This put an already at-risk population at even greater risk by not being able to receive this emergency benefit.
Solution: Tangelo food benefit platform
Tangelo is a turnkey food benefits solution, so we already had the systems and infrastructure in place to design and distribute the food benefits to county members, fast.
We guided the client through three simple steps:
1. Specify member eligibility
A dedicated Tangelo partner success consultant helped the County specify eligibility criteria for the member base based on requirements around the funds:
- Verified County Residency
- Financially impacted by COVID – (lost job, contracted COVID, etc.)
- Fell below a certain income threshold based on household size
Members needed to submit proof that they were residents of the County. But due to COVID lockdowns, the traditional method of going to their CBO and presenting their proof of residency document to receive their benefit made this impossible.
Tangelo streamlined this process by enabling eligible members to upload their proof of residency through the Tangelo Mobile App. The app then verified the recipient and distributed the benefit immediately upon verification.
This digital approach posed a different challenge to the County though. Many of the most vulnerable members of the population were non-tech enabled or smartphone limited. To navigate this barrier, the County leveraged Tangelo Assist, a fully managed service from Tangelo where members’ enrollment, benefit redemption, and food delivery is all done by Tangelo, without the member ever having to log into the app.
2. Add additional activities
Once enrolled, eligible members completed an additional demographic survey which provided the County with more information on the needs of the populations they served. By completing the survey, members could unlock the food benefits available to them in the app.
3. Customize the food benefit
Two benefits were created for the program, each available depending on whether the member of the community fell above or below a certain household income threshold. Benefit amounts were set at either $600 or $900.
These benefits were redeemable on a selection of 13 different food box options tailored to the needs of the demographic being serviced. Box options included:
- Produce Box
- Protein Box
- Shelf Stable Box
- Custom Boxes
- Family Variety Box
- Healthy Snack Box
- Student Pantry Box
- Vegan Box
- Vegetarian Box
- Healthy Variety Box
Food for these boxes was sourced in-part from 68 in-state farms.56 farms supplying to the program were minority-owned.
The impact: 24,441,027 servings of food delivered
After the benefit period closed, we reviewed the County’s benefit details (all partners can also view data in their Tangelo dashboard at any time). Here are just a few of the impact details:
- Funds distributed within 6 weeks
- $9,577,600 distributed
- $9,577,600 redeemed
- 241,897 total boxes delivered
- 24,441,027 total servings of food delivered
- 6,391,821 total servings of fruit and vegetables delivered
- 6,110,257 total meals enjoyed
- 861,940 app engagements
Thanks to our dedicated team and turn-key systems, Tangelo helped the County distribute millions of dollars of healthy food to households in need. The segment of our network that was engaged to support the distribution and redemption of these benefits included over 7000 drivers, suppliers, farmers, and supply chain specialists.