Scott Duncombe co-founded Pizza to the Polls in 2016. Four years later, the initiative is still going strong.
In 2016, news of long lines at polling booths gave birth to Pizza to the Polls, an initiative to feed voters who are “hungry for democracy.” The project, co-founded by Scott Duncombe, is back again during the 2020 election cycle to make sure no one goes hungry when they exercise their democratic right to vote. Already, the nonpartisan grassroots organization has sent out over 2,000 pizzas to voters casting their votes in 19 states across the United States during this election season. As the November elections loom even closer, Pizza to the Polls hopes to cover even more ground this year, CNN reports.
This year, the need for an initiative like this one is only expected to grow. Voting in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic has placed pressure on local voting systems. Duncombe explained, “There's going to be a ton of lines this year and so we will hopefully be good to go and spend that pizza money as fast as it comes in.” The group started out quite small four years ago, delivering only to the states of Ohio, Florida, and Illinois. Then, two years after they were first established, the group provided almost 11,000 pizzas to 611 polling places in 41 states. However, they have now come a long way, delivering to “hundreds of polling places in 2020” and even employing “pizza delivery recruits.”
Pizza to the Polls is mostly sustained by small-dollar donors. The co-founder stated, “The average donation is under twenty bucks, so it's just a lot of folks buying other people pizza.” The organization does not align itself with a particular party and uses social media to identify where its services are needed on Election Day. Any and all voters who spot long voting lines can submit an entry to the group’s website. Once the long line has been verified, they send over the pizza. The initiative has implemented new health and safety protocols this year in light of the ongoing public health crisis.
“Before, you could walk around with an open pizza box,” Duncombe shared. “Nowadays, that's not really what you want to be doing.” Some of the measures include sending clearer handoff instructions for delivery drivers as well as parking food trucks around the outskirts of lines for easier access. When asked why the team decided to supply pizza and not another type of food, the co-founder said that not only is there a pizza place at every corner of the country, but as temperatures drop in November, pizza is exactly the kind of comforting food you need. “It helps to have something warm in your stomach,” he said, adding, “Pizza brings people together. It puts a smile on their face. And that's exactly the kind of attitude we want to have going into the polling booth.”
It definitely does. And with things shaping up to fall in line with Duncombe’s forecasts for polling booths this election cycle, voters will absolutely need the nourishment. On Super Tuesday, lengthy wait lines were “ubiquitous.” Furthermore, though hundreds of Americans have chosen to vote through mail, several more still plan to cast their ballot in person. Jim O'Conner, a voter in Fairfax County, Virginia, told CNN, “I don't trust the mail right now, that's why [I'm voting today]. If I got to stand here all day, I'm going to vote today.” It’s good to know that while Americans wait in line in uncomfortable conditions to exercise their right to vote, initiatives like Pizza to the Polls will keep them well-fed. To make a donation and support their efforts, you can visit their website here.