The coronavirus pandemic has altered the lives of countless people in countless ways. Many have lost their jobs or have seen a sharp decrease in business, and some are struggling to feed their families. Now, the city of New York has a program to help ease both problems by paying idled cab drivers to deliver meals to those in need.
The city created the GetFoodNYC Food Delivery Program to help New Yorkers who are food insecure or vulnerable to the coronavirus. Since some of these people are not currently served through existing food delivery programs, the city decided to enlist licensed commercial drivers to help drop off food to people who must stay home.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission, or TLC, which is responsible for licensing and regulating taxis and other for-hire vehicles in New York City, is encouraging its drivers to sign up for the meal delivery program.
With stay-at-home orders in place, cab drivers have lost most of their business. By participating in the meal delivery program, drivers can earn $15 per hour. So not only will vulnerable New Yorkers get food delivery, but drivers are getting a chance to make money during these financially difficult times.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that more than 11,000 taxi and for-hire drivers have signed up for the program. “What they’re doing is heroic,” de Blasio tweeted. “And it helps them earn a paycheck to put food on the table for their own families in the process.”
The mayor said the city expects to provide 10 million free meals to New Yorkers in April alone and that number could grow to 15 million in May. “We’re serving them out of more than 400 school hubs. And for seniors and vulnerable New Yorkers, we’re delivering to their door,” he wrote.
According to TLC, the drivers have helped deliver 6 million meals to New Yorkers in need as of Monday. “This is a tremendous contribution you have made to our city in one of the most difficult times in recent history,” the commission tweeted. They shared photos of drivers wearing gloves and masks to protect themselves and others while making the deliveries.
TLC drivers aren’t the only group using their cars to do good during this unprecedented time. Uber has partnered with Feeding America to deliver meals from more than 200 food banks across the country to those who need it the most, according to a spokesperson.
Uber also teamed up with a nonprofit to deliver Kosher meals to Holocaust survivors in New York City during Passover, as part of Uber’s goal to provide 10 million free rides and food deliveries for those in need. Uber started by giving free rides and meals to health care workers, and has now provided more than 300,000 free meals to first responders and rides to other frontline workers, a company rep told CBS News.