DoorDash delivers 100 million charity meals, partnering with religious, other nonprofits

'If it wasn't for DoorDash really partnering with us, a lot of things that we desire to do for the community probably wouldn't come to pass,' a Chicago pastor said.

A delivery person takes a Project DASH bag from a Masbia Soup Kitchen Network team member in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo courtesy Masbia)

(RNS) — DoorDash is known for its food deliveries to homes across America.

But it recently marked a milestone for a less visible aspect of its business: supporting faith-based groups and other nonprofits as they aid people who are facing hunger and poverty.

In June, DoorDash announced it had delivered more than 100 million charity meals via its Project DASH, which often involves drivers delivering 20 pounds of free food in boxes and bags to families in need.


Many of these partnerships began during the pandemic, when home delivery became an essential part of food aid and distribution for soup kitchens, food pantries and elder care — often run by religious organizations — and have continued in the years since.

From mass feedings of the homeless in Chicago to kosher market deliveries to needy New Yorkers to gift card distributions via Boston churches, faith leaders across the country have joined forces with the food delivery business to continue work they’ve long done in their communities, especially in areas where food is unaffordable or inaccessible.

Pastor Cornelius Parks, second from right, and Good Hope Freewill Baptist Church have partnered with DoorDash to better serve the community in Chicago. (Photo courtesy Cornelius Parks)

Pastor Cornelius Parks, second from right, and Good Hope Freewill Baptist Church have partnered with DoorDash to better serve the community in Chicago. (Photo courtesy Cornelius Parks)

“As part of our work to empower local economies, we partner with faith leaders across the country to help broaden access in local communities,” said Darrell Davis, senior manager for public engagement for DoorDash, in a statement to Religion News Service.


RELATED: Pandemic boosted resilience, hurt financial health of Black churches, says report


“We’re excited to help our partners continue to achieve their community-focused missions in ways that break down barriers to access.”

Since 2021, the organization has offered gift cards — which it calls “community credits”— to nonprofits. It also has financially supported events ranging from turkey giveaways to faith-based activities such as vaccination efforts and mentoring programs.

With donations and deliveries from DoorDash, a Chicago pastor and his church helped feed hundreds of unhoused people in its fellowship hall on a special “Love Day” and sent free meals to the homes of seniors and veterans.


Pastor Cornelius Parks said the connections with the food delivery company have enhanced his church’s ability to reach out to the East Garfield Park neighborhood that he describes as a “food desert,” with scarce access to fresh food, grocery stores or mom-and-pop stores.

“If it wasn’t for DoorDash really partnering with us, a lot of things that we desire to do for the community probably wouldn’t come to pass because we’re limited on resources,” said Parks, the leader of Good Hope Freewill Baptist Church, a predominantly Black congregation where about 115 attend on Sundays. “You still have to operate as a church, and you still have overhead. And even though you have members that show up, everyone is not giving like they used to.”

Lots of DoorDash delivery personnel await their next deliveries outside of the Masbia Food Reserve Depot in Brooklyn, New York, before Passover 2023. (Photo courtesy Masbia)

Lots of DoorDash delivery personnel await their next deliveries outside of the Masbia Food Reserve Depot in Brooklyn, New York, before Passover 2023. (Photo courtesy Masbia)

In March, when Masbia Soup Kitchen Network in Brooklyn, New York, got an emergency shipment of frozen chicken wings that had a looming sell-by date, it coordinated with DoorDash motorcyclists to deliver the food from a tractor trailer whose contents were far too large for Masbia’s limited freezer space.

Some 2,500 families received food within eight hours, said Alexander Rapaport, a Hasidic Jew who is the executive director of the kosher soup kitchen.

“We have the trailer arrive and have staff and volunteers start breaking that up, putting into bags — by the end of the day, they’re all delivered,” he said. “Off the truck, into shopping bags and onto the motorcycles of the DoorDash.”


He said his charity, which has received grants from DoorDash, also works with the delivery company to get meals to needy people, especially widowed and divorced mothers, so they do not have to leave home to receive a weekly family dinner and groceries such as fresh vegetables and fruit, rice and chicken. The soup kitchen also uses DoorDash for food deliveries to thousands during the holidays of Purim and Passover.

A 2023 Urban Institute report said Project DoorDash was conceived during an employee hackathon in 2018 and included Dashers — as DoorDash drivers are known — being paid for their nonprofit-related deliveries.

It notes that DoorDash’s arrangement at the time of the report was to forego profits on these deliveries, subsidizing the rate charged to nonprofits for delivery and sometimes assisting nonprofits in securing local funding to pay for their part of the cost of delivery.

“While a few partners have discontinued the service because they did not see a way to sustain it without full in-kind support, most have conveyed that they see home delivery as an essential component of their services in a way that many had not previously conceptualized before the pandemic,” said the report, which was funded by DoorDash.

"Counties Served by Project DASH Nonprofit Partners" (Graphic courtesy Urban Institute)

“Counties Served by Project DASH Nonprofit Partners” (Graphic courtesy Urban Institute)

Kip Banks, senior impact strategist for Values Partnerships, a Washington-based organization that fosters collaborations to address the needs of urban communities, started about three years ago to set up listening sessions so DoorDash representatives could learn from faith leaders about community needs, such as homelessness, food insecurity and poverty. He said the funding partnerships that resulted have become a necessity for many churches.

“The post-pandemic church certainly is focused on, again, being relevant as a church to serve people,” he said. “But I think the church recognizes that in order to be effective, you cannot just rely upon the tithes and the offerings and only departments within the church. You have to partner with others outside of the church.”


The Rev. David Wright, executive director of BMA TenPoint, which supports Black and Latino congregations in Boston, started working with DoorDash in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using codes provided by the company, its affiliated churches have ordered food online at no cost to provide meals for people in need. Smaller churches were given gift cards to hand directly to those seeking help.

He estimates hundreds of families have been aided by the more than $25,000 in resources his organization has received from DoorDash.

“A lot of our churches are aging,” said Wright, who is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and is assistant to the pastor at Peoples Baptist Church of Boston.

“We have older people on fixed incomes, and across the board — I can’t say, especially in Black churches, but across the board — churches haven’t been good at attracting and retaining young people, and so the tithes and offerings just aren’t allowing churches to be as generous with the community as they have been in the past.”

In February, DoorDash, announced it had awarded more than $500,000 in grants to some 200 organizations providing social services for expenses related to home-delivery services.


Beyond the work with faith-based and secular food pantries and congregations, DoorDash is also working with denominations and their affiliates on the regional and local level.

The Rev. David Peoples, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, estimated that DoorDash provides thousands of dollars in sponsorships to his historically Black denomination on an annual basis.

“It’s a win-win for DoorDash to be good partners in the community,” said Peoples, “and a win-win for PNBC so that we could do ministry and not worry about money.”


RELATED: Latino majority congregations see growth, financial struggles, report finds

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