Five friends have created a handy app that connects front line medical workers with a volunteer grocery shopper in their neighbourhood. Algorithmic postal code matching powers the free delivery app.
The creators of the nonprofit GroceryHero – Elliott Charbonneau, Luca De Blasis, Matthew Lombardi, Max Seltzer, and Hemanth Soni – started the app when they saw that “grocery delivery services are badly oversubscribed, and medical workers don’t want to go inside grocery stores right now for fear of exposing the public.”
As of this week GroceryHero has over 2500 signups and has made over 300 matches of frontline medical workers with a volunteer shopper in their neighbourhood. The delivery is free.
The app has received significant attention o Twitter by the Deputy PM of Canada, Ontario Health Minister, and Mayors of Ottawa and Toronto. And that’s on top of features by media outlets like the Calgary Herald/Sun, Toronto Sun, CTV and many more.
Montreal roots with a Canada-wide focus
One of the guys currently lives in Montreal, while two of them are native Montrealers.
According to the Calgary Sun, Lombardi is a Toronto-based management consultant. He was picking up groceries for a close friend who works as an emergency room doctor.
“We launched purposefully in Toronto and got 500 sign-ups on Day 1 and then got e-mails pouring in asking us to open it up,” Lombardi told the Sun. “We worked through the night to make sure we could capture every postal code in the country and by Day 2 we were open for national matches.”
Naturally, grocery stores aren’t currently the best places to be for healthcare professionals. That’s not because of other people, of course. It’s because they don’t want to risk exposing others to COVID-19.
And there’s another problem. It can take a few days for food from overloaded grocery delivery apps to arrive at customers’ doors. Frontline medical workers are already working long hours in stressful circumstances, and they need a better solution.
“It just kind of exploded,” Lombardi told the Sun. “More than 3,000 people signed up and over 70 per cent live within one kilometre of each other. It’s not just doctors and nurses. It’s also hospital and cleaning staff, anyone who is feeling like they’re exposed.”
Volunteers fill out a Google Form on the website (www.getgroceryhero.com) and they get matched with a nearby health professional.
Grocery Hero says 70 per cent of matches are within one kilometre of each other.