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Cruise Self-Driving Cars Deliver 2 Millionth Meal For San Francisco-Marin Food Bank

By Amanda Starrantino

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    SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The pandemic brought food insecurity to high levels in San Francisco. More than 50,000 people are still relying on their local food pantry and home-delivered grocery programs in the Bay Area.

With new technology, the San Francisco Marin Food Bank is checking off their two millionth meal delivered through the use of self-driving cars from Cruise.

Jane Redmond was not going to let the pandemic take a toll on her.

“I just lost 100 pounds during the pandemic,” explained Redmond. “I bought an exercise bike and I didn’t want the two years or the pandemic to be wasted. I said I was going to work on myself. I completely changed my whole way of eating.”

As a home-bound senior at 70-years-old, Redmond signed up for the San Francisco Marin Food Bank’s senior meal delivery service at the beginning of the pandemic.

“I am a single, senior citizen on a low income,” said Redmond. “And it is not just me that the food bank touches but my friends get it also. And to know that I am going to get it every Monday, that is such a blessing.”

A blessing in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables and pantry items that keeps Redmond on track to lead the healthiest lifestyle of her life.

“Just an abundance of wonderful food that is keeping me really healthy, my blood pressure is down, my cholesterol is perfect and I have never had that,” she explained.

These food deliveries to Redmond’s door happen with the driving force of new technology. Self-driving cars are paving the way to stocked kitchens across the Bay.

“When the pandemic hit, we saw food insecurity skyrocketing and at Cruise we asked how we could use our autonomous vehicles to help,” said Amanda Lenaghan, Head of Social Impact at Cruise.

The food bank partnered with the San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle company to use its zero-emission fleet to not just help the environment but also our most vulnerable neighbors.

“Hunger doesn’t impact our communities equitably or equally so we got to drive bold change, that can only happen through innovative partnerships,” said Tanis Crosby of the San Francisco Marin Food Bank.

Crosby sees the need for access to food daily in the Bay Area and the pandemic only made the need greater.

“COVID changed everything overnight,” said Crosby. “We needed to find new ways to meet the urgent needs of our community.”

A partnership with Cruise to deliver groceries right to homes has allowed the food bank to reach so many more people in need. Cruise is testing and developing its technology while serving the greater good by making these deliveries at the same time.

“[Cruise] made it possible to serve thousands more in new ways that we didn’t think were possible,” said Crosby.

This week marks two million meals delivered solely by Cruise’s self-driving fleet. It is just one step to provide for the nearly 81% of the San Francisco Marin Food Bank’s participants that have yet to recover financially from the pandemic.

Redmond is a testament to the work being done to ​ultimately park food insecurity.

“To get that abundance of really good food every week and know it is going to be there, life is so unsure right now,” said Redmond. “But at one o’clock every Monday, I know Max is going to be there every Monday with a smile and a bag of food for me. What a gift, what a gift!”

The milestone delivery was just the first for Cruise. The company says it will continue to commit at least 1% of its self-driving fleet to support the ongoing needs of the Bay Area community.

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