The holidays are a time of abundance; from gifts, time spent with loved ones, and most notably, with food. Though a time to celebrate all that we have and are thankful for, the holiday season also represents a time of scarcity and uncertainty for the 10.5% of U.S. households considered to be food insecure. In a recent blog post, we discussed TuSimple’s involvement in fighting food waste. Food waste can have many implications, from placing stress on the supply chain to consumers’ tables. In this blog post, we will discuss the opportunity that we have to reduce and fight food insecurity given the notably high levels of food waste we see in our communities. At TuSimple, we have worked to leverage both our technology and trucks to fight food insecurity through our partnership with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
During the first few months of the pandemic, roughly 4 in 10 people visiting food banks were seeking help for the first time in their lives, driving a 55% increase in year-on-year visits. Though a long-standing issue, the pandemic has spotlighted growing food waste.
Arizona, home to our Tucson hub, produces 12% of the country’s fruits and vegetables. Yet, tragically, 1 in 6 Arizonans struggles with food insecurity. Each year, 30-40% of food is wasted in the U.S. (81.4 billion pounds of food waste generated in America in 2017). This year, that number is likely higher due to the pandemic. High rates of food waste have profound implications on our communities. Though food insecurity can affect people from all walks of life, it is most commonly concentrated in lower income communities. As such, we must find solutions to the often overlooked need to supply food to these families.
One of the bigger challenges facing food-insecure communities within the U.S. is the number of existing food deserts. This can be partially combatted by increasing the availability of transportation; to transport food to local pantries and food banks for distribution. We at TuSimple believe that our autonomous semi-trucks can provide a safe and efficient way to distribute food to the organizations that serve those most in need. Beyond the ability to move food freight faster and to increase food accessibility, there are many benefits that our autonomous trucks can provide, including reducing transportation costs by up to 50% per mile. This will allow food banks to funnel these savings towards procuring more meals and ensuring that households in need can access the programs.
TuSimple first started working with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona in 2018. Since then, we have continued to partner with them to provide both food donations and freight transportation during times of distinct need, notably throughout the holidays and during the height of the pandemic. During these periods, we delivered two to four shipments of food per week – from lettuce to watermelons – to both the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona as well as other food banks. Recognized as the top food bank in the U.S., the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona serves 180,000 people annually through programs that address both food insecurity and health. As new challenges due to the pandemic emerged throughout 2020 and 2021, our contribution helped the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona face those challenges head on.
Together we can make a difference in the fight against hunger.
pounds of food transported
truckloads of food hauled
To date, we have successfully delivered more than 3.5 million pounds of food, or 2.7 million meals, to communities in need. This partnership represents the best of what our autonomous trucks are capable of, improving the quality of life in our communities, especially for those underserved by the limitations of our supply chain.
As we expand our operational footprint, it’s encouraging to think about the different ways TuSimple’s autonomous trucks can help communities around the world. Tackling food insecurity in our communities is work that will take time, and the strong partnerships that we are building will enable us to continue creating a better path forward.