Thousands of people in Dallas, Texas, lined up on Thursday for free meals provided by the school district. In many places, there aren't enough helping hands to keep pace with the demand for food. But one program is hiring workers laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic to help feed families in need in Washington D.C., and Texas.
Typically, volunteers at the North Texas Food Bank prepare the 77 million meals the bank distributes each year — but COVID-19 has kept them away. The solution? A partnership between the food bank and Shiftsmart, an online marketplace connecting workers with employers.
One of those workers is Anna Morris, who lost her bartending job a few weeks ago.
"This is great money, and a good opportunity to— to keep my spirits high," Morris said.
'The best thing to do was to match these hospitality workers with the volunteer shifts so those meals could keep getting delivered," said Shiftsmart president Patrick Brandt.
The partnership, called "Get Shift Done," raised more than $2 million in just three days. That money created more than 1,000 jobs paying $10 an hour.
"This is a short term fund," said Anurag Jain, chairman of the North Texas Food Bank's board. "And hopefully it gets us through this uncertain period."
The project is helping 20 local pantries and school districts provide food during the pandemic while keeping cooks like Marco Cisneros working.
"I'm the first one here, the last one out," Cisneros said, adding, "We're all in this together. I mean, you gotta help each other out, no matter what."
Correction: An earlier version of this piece misstated job the title for Patrick Brandt, and said the program was operating in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles program has not yet launched.