Today’s Solutions: December 01, 2021

If you’re going to an NFL game and want to know where to park or where to find concessions, Agustin Gonzalez’s company Paranoid Fan can find those points of interest in real-time. If you want to stay in your seat and have a hot dog delivered to you, Paranoid Fan can make that happen too. It brings mapping and food delivery to live experiences.

But right now, no one is going to any NFL games or any public events. The COVID-19 pandemic has put an end, for the time being, to live experiences. So Gonzalez pivoted, like so many business owners, and brought his mapping and delivery technology to food banks.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on food banks across the country as businesses shutter and Americans lose their jobs. Gonzalez used to live in Manhattan (he now lives in Dallas), and he says it broke his heart to see the long food lines all over New York City amid the crisis. “Right now, probably about a third of food banks and pantries in New York City do delivery. The rest do pickup orders,” he says. “What happens is, for example, if one opens at 8 a.m., they literally have a line out the door and around the block at 8 a.m.”

Called Nepjun, his new platform digitizes the infrastructure of food banks. Nepjun helps food banks and pantries set a menu, confirm packaging, and develop a protocol for distributing orders efficiently and safely. Those in need can use Nepjun.com to find nearby food banks that are working with the platform, place online orders, and select either curbside pickup in a specific time slot, which could reduce those lines and help enforce social distancing guidelines, or delivery, for which runners will fulfill orders aided by the company’s optimized routing technology.

Currently, there is no cost to food banks or pantries to use Nepjun; Gonzalez says they have some “patient investors” and don’t want financial friction to interfere with getting these services off the ground. He adds that runners are paid competitively, though the platform is also accepting volunteers to deliver these meals, just as volunteers help staff food pantries normally. 

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