Welcome to the second DtCP weekly update. Lots of new developments this week, from sending the largest number of care packs ever, to government regulation changes, to receiving generous sponsorships from amazing individuals! Enjoy!
Key highlights of the week
- Delivered 101 care packs (approximately 2121 meals) on Friday and Saturday, our largest number yet. Each care pack was literally overflowing with food and supplies.
- Covered by the Associated Press, in Euronews, in German, Italian, and French.
- Raised £20,144 on Crowdfunder
- Received a very generous £500/week sponsorship from Theodore Schneider.
- Started collecting food surplus bread daily from Gail’s Bakery, lowering unit costs of care packs by 20%.
- Received a generous £2500 donation from Citrix Systems
Monday – May 11th
One thing that’s been always been really important to us was ensuring regular care packs are sent to the same individuals to support them through this crisis. This means that one-off donations from food suppliers wasn’t enough – this isn’t predictable, and can leave us scrambling to find enough food for the care packs last minute.
Both Josephine and myself have a background in environmental sustainability (actually, DtCP was intended to be a food waste marketplace originally, until we pivoted our direction entirely given COVID-19!). Food surplus being thrown away is a huge problem in London. For example, up to 50% of bread from bakeries is thrown away daily.
This week, we started a partnership with GAIL’s Bakery, facilitated through a longstanding relationship between Josephine’s social enterprise DayOld, which redistributes surplus artisan baked goods to raise money for charity. Our team of volunteers collects bread from their chains around London and redistributes to those in need. We now are collecting daily. Monday to Wednesday, we redistribute the bread collections to a homeless shelter with ~95 residents, and on Friday and Saturday, we use the bread in our care packs. When we were buying bread from wholesalers, bread accounted for about 20% of the cost of each care pack. If unit costs go down 20%, we can significantly increase the number of care packs we send out each week.
GAIL’s Bakery collections now join Fareshare GO collections, City Harvest deliveries, and Felix Project donations to ensure predictable food supply. More food sources to be added soon to enable even more scalability!
Note: these are translations, and I do not speak any of these languages!
Tuesday – May 12th
After a great crowdfunding campaign to kickstart financial support, we needed to ensure we’re sustainable in the long-run. This is so we can have certainty around being able to support the same people each week.
So a few weeks ago, I set up a weekly sponsorship service, allowing people to sponsor our care packs on a weekly basis.
How this works is you enter the amount you want to donate weekly, and subscribe to the service (that you can cancel anytime).
Since then, we have received subscriptions from a dozen or so amazing individuals.
This subscription alone ensures we can source, pack, and deliver ~100 new care packs per week, and we will soon be significantly increasing the number of delivers every Friday and Saturday. We currently deliver 100 per week. We’re going to double this number to 200 care packs next week (an approximate equivalent of 4200 meals per week – each care pack lasts one week, assuming three meals a day, meaning one care pack contains 21 meals)). Stay tuned!
Wednesday- May 13th
On Wednesday, two new regulatory changes came up that we needed to consider.
First, London now has a congestion zone tax, effective May 18, meaning that most drivers in the congestion zone (pictured below) have to pay 11.50 per day (soon increasing to 15 per day from 7am to 10pm).
But this is a minor problem. Of our 100 deliveries, only ~7-8 are in the congestion zone, meaning we can either (1) subsidise one driver for the cost of delivering to those locations, or (2) in the long-term, switch to bicycles for delivering to addresses in the congestion zone. For this week, we’ll likely use the subsidisation of driver method, as our are packs are getting huge, and even one care pack will be too big for a normal bicycle (great problem to have!).
In any case, delivery coordination remains just as easy using Optimoroute. We simply assign all addresses in the congestion zone to one driver (or multiple drivers if we are using bicycles), as below:
Second, there were major changes in PPE regulation. The UK government released new guidelines for small-scale PPE manufacturers which makes it illegal to donate PPE before passing certain 3rd-party verification checks.
Our suppliers are in the process of getting these verifications, but until that is completed, we will unfortunately have to stop sending any PPE to hospitals, GPs, or care homes.
In any case, we are now exploring donating PPE internationally. There are many areas in the world that are in even more need of PPE than the UK (e.g. slums, refugee camps, many developing countries, etc.)
Thursday – May 14th
Every Thursday, Steph, our Operations Director has the super challenging but rewarding task of coordinating a dozen or so volunteers to assemble ~100 care packs. Each care packs lasts one week (assuming 3 meals a day), so we deliver approximately 2100 meals per week. This involves checking our order form for what each individual is asking for, lining up the care packs according to driver route to ensure efficient collection, and writing a personalised message on the outside of each bag for each recipient (it’s not just about food or essential items – psychological needs also matter).
This is what 101 care packs (2121 meals + essential supplies) looks like:
This week, thanks to the new recurring donations mentioned above, every care pack was literally overflowing:
Friday – May 15th
This week, we delivered to 101 addresses, our largest number ever!
Some feedback from our recipients:
Saturday – May 16th
On Saturday (aside from our weekly deliveries that happen every Friday and Saturday) we closed our Crowdfunder, raising £20,144 from 133 supporters, more than 2x’ing our initial target.
Special shoutouts to:
- NatWest’s Back Her Business Programme, which supports women-led businesses, for donating £5000.
- Trust for London’s Connected Communities Matchfund, supporting projects tackling poverty and inequality in outer London, for donating £5000.
- Ada Ventures, a progressive VC firm, for donating £1000.
- James Lo, who is co-leading SoftBank’s COVID-19 response, for donating £1000.
- Forsters LLP, the law firm, for donating £1000.
The Forsters LLP story is awesome. Zahava Lever, one of our amazing volunteers, began volunteering for DtCP a few weeks ago, and believed in our mission so much that she spoke to Forsters about what we were doing. Shortly afterwards, Forsters Charitable Fund made us a whooping £1000 donation! Thank you Zahava!
We also need to give a big shoutout to Jay Leblang of Citrix Systems, who put forward DtCP for Citrix’s Relief & Recovery Fund. Separately from the Crowdfunder, Citrix is now making a £2,500 donation to DtCP to help support our continued work. Thanks so much Jay!
This week, we implemented a system where we asked for a few more drivers than we needed as backups, so no problems this time, and 101/101 care packs were successfully delivered.
Till next time,