Nonprofit Meal Delivery Route Planner Case Study

RouteSavvy Helps SOS Meals on Wheels DOUBLE Its Meal Deliveries During The Pandemic & Beyond

Nonprofit Meal Delivery Route Planner Software |

SOS Meals on Wheels was already preparing & delivering more than 28,000-30,000 meals per month to homebound seniors in and around Oakland, California when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020. Once the pandemic kicked in, vulnerable seniors were afraid to leave their homes & demand for home-delivered meals skyrocketed. As a result, SOS Meals on Wheels added 1,500 new seniors needing delivered meals in just 9 months – from March to December 2020.

Prior to the pandemic, this busy nonprofit was delivering meals on 52 daily routes. Once the pandemic started and requests for delivered meals exploded, SOS Meals on Wheels increased its routes up to 100 routes per day. They handled the exponential increase in seniors needing home-delivered meals thanks to RouteSavvy Route Optimization Software by OnTerra Systems USA.

“Given the increased calls for help & meal deliveries during the pandemic, RouteSavvy is what saved us.”

-Charlie Deterline, Executive Director, SOS Meals on Wheels

Nonprofit Meal Delivery Route Planner Software |“SOS Meals on Wheels drives 94 daily meal delivery routes using 26 paid drivers and 30 to 40 volunteer drivers every day,” said SOS Meals on Wheels Executive Director Charlie Deterline. “We are the largest senior nutrition provider in the Oakland, Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo communities,” he said. In addition, SOS Meals on Wheels drivers cover roughly 1,700 miles every day with 8 fleet vehicles & 30+ volunteer drivers using their personal vehicles.

Given the volume & complexity of delivery routes, miles driven, and the addition of 1,500 seniors to the program in 9 months flat, SOS Meals on Wheels made the shift from manual routing to using RouteSavvy route planning software.

“Pre-Covid, we were developing routes manually,” said Mr. Deterline. “When we added a new client, we would review Google Maps, ‘guess-timate’ which delivery route should have the new client added, and the driver would note where the new person belonged in the routing sequence after driving the new route. In short, we weren’t optimizing any part of the process, let alone our routes,” he said.

SOS Meals on Wheels Chose RouteSavvy Route Planning Software To Ease Its Growing Pains

 Nonprofit Meal Delivery Route Planner Software |

Once the Covid pandemic became a reality & the volume of new clients skyrocketed, route optimization became a necessity. “We went from adding 9-18 new clients per week before Covid to up to 92 new clients per week after Covid,” explained Mr. Deterline.

The SOS Meals on Wheels management team then embarked on a search for route planning software & chose RouteSavvy for its blend of high functionality & affordable price.

“We deliver meals to the same people every day & we didn’t want to have to re-invent those routes each day. RouteSavvy was one of the only route planners  that allowed us to save our routes and re-use them day after day,” explained Mr. Deterline.

In addition, the best practice with meal deliveries to seniors is to have the same driver visit the same seniors & RouteSavvy facilitates that. “Our first priority is to provide hot meals for homebound seniors. Our second and related priority is to provide a daily wellness check for isolated seniors,” he explained. “RouteSavvy’s ability to save routes driven every day allows us to have the same driver delivering meals to the same seniors. Our drivers are then able to tell if there’s a change in someone’s health or support needs because they see them every day and can spot changes.”

RouteSavvy Helps Get Meals To Seniors Faster

Nonprofit Meal Delivery Route Planner Software |

RouteSavvy has allowed the SOS Meals on Wheels team get meals to hungry seniors much faster. “In our pre-Covid days, we’d get a call from a grandmother needing delivered meals. Back then, it was a 3- to 4-day process to get them into the database, get them manually added to the most appropriate route, and start delivering meals,” recalled Mr. Deterline. “Now that we’re using RouteSavvy, I enter the new client into the database, visually confirm the best route to which they should be added, and we can start delivering meals within 48 hours.”

RouteSavvy Helped Cut SOS Meals on Wheels’ Operating Costs During A Time of Massive Expansion

Nonprofit Meal Delivery Route Planner Software |

In the simplest terms, RouteSavvy generates more efficient delivery routes, which reduces miles driven. The biggest cost of operating a fleet, i.e., fuel costs, can be significantly lowered by reducing miles driven.

Once RouteSavvy was put in place, SOS Meals on Wheels saw significant improvements in their efficiency despite massive growth.

In fiscal year 2019-2020, SOS Meals on Wheels delivered 437,000 meals, with mileage reimbursement costs of $105,000.

In fiscal year 2020-2021, SOS Meals on Wheels delivered 570,000 meals, with mileage reimbursement costs of $120,000.

“Once the pandemic hit, we added 40 additional clients per day and delivered 100,000+ more meals per year – and our mileage costs only went up $15,000. RouteSavvy clearly made us more efficient,” said Mr. Deterline.

RouteSavvy Offers Ease of Use & Great Customer Service

Nonprofit Meal Delivery Route Planner Software |

“RouteSavvy’s customer service has been a huge part of our success. Our RouteSavvy customer rep made sure that he didn’t end training calls until everyone had the ability to optimize routes,” said Mr. Deterline.

SOS Meals on Wheels management knows RouteSavvy helped them meet massive demand under extraordinary circumstances. “If RouteSavvy hadn’t offered us the ability to create new routes daily to meet demand, we would not have been able to achieve our increased service goals during the height of the pandemic,” said Executive Director Deterline. SOS Meals on Wheels management expects to keep 75 to 80% of the increased demand for home delivered meals. RouteSavvy will help this organization efficiently deliver hot meals to isolated seniors & provided a much-needed welfare check from a familiar face.

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