Ride United: A Caseworker’s Guide to Free Meal Deliveries

Access to food in Wichita can prove difficult in some neighborhoods and households. Barriers vary from lacking access to nearby grocery stories to mobility issues and limited transportation options. Ride United: Last Mile Delivery is a program that can help.

Ride United: Last Mile Delivery is a partnership with United Way of the Plains, Open Door Food Ministries, Bank of America, Cargill and DoorDash.

Graphic with icons of how the Ride United: Last Mile Delivery program works.

Free food deliveries

Each week, case managers submit a food order to Matt Lowe, United Way Community Impact Manager for Basic Needs, on behalf of the client. Food boxes are packaged at United Methodist Open Door Community Food Ministry and distributed to DoorDash drivers, who deliver the meals to a client’s front door.

None of the cost is paid for by the client. United Way of the Plains is proud to partner with Bank of America and Cargill to fund free food deliveries through Ride United. Last year, a grant was awarded to United Way to fund the program. We are also excited by the partnership with DoorDash, which is providing reduced-cost food box deliveries.

More than just food

If you can’t afford food, you probably can’t afford pots to cook in or utensils to eat with. Our partnership with Kitchen Restore can help. Kitchen Restore is a program through K-State Research and Extension — Sedgwick County that provides basic kitchen must haves to people who cannot afford them. Depending on the needs, clients can be delivered a kitchen kit that includes plates, silverware, pans and more.  Kitchen Restore is one of our Opportunity on the Plains grant funded partners.

Ride United: A Success Story

COMCARE of Sedgwick County is one human services provider utilizing Ride United. They help people in our community who are struggling with mental health and homelessness. We had a chance to catch up with Anita Martinez, a CSS Case Management Supervisor, about how clients at COMCARE are benefiting from this unique program.

“These are people who might be living on the streets, struggling to afford medication or treatment options. Our goal for every client that walks through the door is for them to learn to be more independent and live a more fulfilling life in the community,” Martinez shared.

Did you know there is a group of people aimed at solving issues around homelessness? Impact ICT Continuum of Care is a coalition working to make sure that homelessness is rare brief and non-recurring for our neighbors. Learn more here

There are struggles to find people housing, help them with their mental health and get them on a stable path. When caseworkers can get all the pieces aligned to help someone who is homeless transition to a house, it is a major victory. But there will still be struggles. This is where Ride United can help.

“It is beneficial for our clients,” said Martinez. “Transportation is still a barrier.”

Transportation isn’t the only issue either. Situations like lacking income, social anxiety and physical disability can limit people from gaining access to grocery stores.

“What the Ride United program does is it provides access to food in way of delivery programs to people who don’t have access to grocery stories because they live too far away,” said Matt Lowe. “But it also helps people who may live close to a grocery store but don’t have the financial resources to buy the things they need.”

“The Kitchen Restore boxes have also been really incredible. There is a huge variety of utensils in the boxes. They are pretty hefty, pretty awesome… A lot of our clients have started out with nothing and this gives them a good starting point,” said Martinez.

If you have a client who could benefit from Ride United: Last Mile Delivery, contact Matt Lowe, United Way Community Impact Manager for Basic Needs.
How to sign up a client

As a case manager, you know your clients best. You know their struggles and are always looking for ways to make their lives better.

If you have a client you feel could benefit from Ride United, please contact Matt Lowe, United Way Community Impact Manager for Basic Needs, at mlowe@unitedwayplains.org.

Matt can discuss with you the qualifications of Ride United. If everything is approved, you simply submit a weekly food order to Matt on behalf of your client and we take it from there. Be sure to also let Matt know if your client could benefit from Kitchen Restore.

If you receive feedback about the delivery, please make sure you also share that with Matt.

A special note for clients

Ride United is a tool for caseworkers that may benefit you. If your caseworker isn’t aware about this program, please send them a copy of this article. 

If you do not qualify for Ride United and free food deliveries, there could still be help available. Please use our 211 Information and Referral Services to learn about area food pantries and assistance programs.



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