Delivering A Local Solution to Hunger, By Bike

A few months ago Franklin Jones told me during an interview that he was working on a plan to help his bike-delivery business B-Line tackle the social aspect of sustainability that is frequently so difficult for companies to take action on. Yesterday, B-Line launced a new venture - B-Shares, which turns a $20 donation into more than 40 meals by providing the missing link between local food sources - famers and groceries - and the nonprofits that provide meals for people in need. The missing link, of course, is transportation, and in B-Line's case, emissions-free bicycle-based transport of food that might otherwise go to waste.

B-Line delivery bike photo

Photo still courtesy B-Line.

B-Line's bicycle-based green delivery service can be seen each day on the streets of Portland, pulling the big cargo boxes up and down the hills with the help of pedal-assist, taking fresh produce and fresh roasted coffee to over 100 local locations and customers ranging from the Portland Farmer's Market to the Little Green Grocer.

While Jones is by necessity interested in the local bike culture, it is greening the distribution network that has always been his passion. In nearly two years of making deliveries, what he realized is that there's a huge amount of wasted food, and an equally huge problem with hunger in the state of Oregon.

As the clip above makes clear, Oregon is one of the worst states for hunger, and Oregonians throw away about 150 pounds of edible food per person each year. Transporting food is one of the biggest obstacles for organizations like Sisters of the Road, Blanchett House and the St. Francis Dining Hall. With small staffs and limited resources, these organizations don't have the time to hunt down and pick up the food they can definitely use to help feed people every day.

That's where B-Share comes in. Anyone donating $20 to buy a B-Share can expect B-Line to use the funds to allows B-Line bike delivery people to pick up donations from local groceries such as New Seasons and excess produce from venues such as the People's Farmer's Market, and deliver those goods back to the aid organizations. Each $20, B-Line said, will equal delivery of 100 pounds of food to the non profits, at no expense to them.

In materials announcing the new service, Jones say that because the B-Line networks is already making daily deliveries to places such as New Seasons, the B-Share program can leverage the existing delivery network and make the extra deliveries for about half the cost that food pick ups and drop offs would normally entail.

In addition, with B-Share, more fresh foods can be incorporated into the meals the non-profits are making, and for a lesser cost.

In a pilot of the program during the summer, B-Line delivered 3,500 pounds of food, which translated into 7,063 meals. To buy a B-Share go here.

"We have a small staff, so we don't have the resources to go out into the community and gather these kinds of products." - Becky O'Neill MacBrayer

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