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Updated: November 22, 2022

Portland nonprofit teams with DoorDash to expand food access

Mark Swann speaking at a press conference File photo Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street, which just received a $2.5 million grant in coordination with the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project and Pine Tree Legal Assistance to help survivors of human trafficking throughout Maine.

Preble Street, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides food and shelter to community members in need, has joined forces with DoorDash to expand food access in Cumberland County.

Door Dash, which operates an online food ordering and delivery platform, is working with Preble Street as part of Project DASH, an initiative aimed at increasing food access in communities.

As of this past September, Project DASH had delivered more than 50 million meals to homebound individuals and families across the United States and Canada.

Mark Swann, Preble Street's executive director, told Mainebiz that Good Shepherd Food Bank connected his organization with DoorDash for a pilot program that started over the summer and has been ramping up.

"Since then, there have been more than 800 in-kind deliveries," he said.

Swann was honored as a Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year in 2022. Preble Street, which has offices in Portland, Bangor and Lewiston, serves people across Cumberland County with its food programs. Several other programs provide housing and outreach services statewide.

Preble Street's partnership with DoorDash comes amid ongoing renovations at the Portland organization's Food Security Hub in South Portland, on a property at 75 Darling St. it purchased last year.

Swann said Preble Street began operating out of that space at the end of 2021, and expects the final cost to be between $10 million and $12 million for the three-year construction project.

"We have a bold vision to expand and renovate our Food Security Hub to create a comprehensive food system that extends the life of food, reduces food waste, creates more access to culturally appropriate food and provides more sustainable local and nutritious food for more people who need it," he said.

"Even before the construction has started," he added, "we're already doing more than we've ever done before ... already building new partnerships and trying new things. No example of that is more real and creative and flexible and more of a cross-sector partnership than the work we've started with DoorDash."

How the partnership works

Practically speaking, the DoorDash system allows individuals and families to access bulk orders of essential groceries, Swann said.

"It is an individual service, in which caseworkers from Preble Street programs order food boxes on behalf of their clients who are unable to make it to local pantries," he said. "Preble Street staff and volunteers put together those food boxes and DoorDash donates drivers' time to deliver the boxes directly to clients."

Preble Street has a budget of $21.1 million in the current fiscal year and has more than 250 employees, joined by more than 1,000 volunteers every year.

The organization has raised more than $5 million for its Food Security Hub buildout so far and received support from donors that include the John T. Gorman Foundation, the Good Shepherd Food Bank and the Hannaford Charitable Foundation, according to a spokesperson for Preble Street.  Additional support comes from American Rescue Plan Act funding via Cumberland County and South Portland.

Nearly all of the funding for the food and meals provided by Preble Street comes from private sources. The nonprofit produces more than 1 million meals a year


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