A small group of area philanthropists gathered outdoors in Jan’s Garden at North Texas Food Bank Tuesday evening to celebrate the first anniversary of Get Shift Done. The nonprofit with the funny name was founded at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by Anurag Jain, chairman of AccessHealthcare, and Patrick Brandt, president and cofounder of Shiftsmart.
Its mission was simple: Connect unemployed hospitality workers with local food banks, food pantries and school systems. This simple concept gave unemployed workers a living wage while also helping combat food insecurity. That issue became much more prevalent as the pandemic took hold.
“I will never forget that week in March. From Anurag’s phone call on Sunday afternoon to the first shift on Thursday, we were in a full sprint for four days,” Patrick said. “In less than a week, there were workers at North Texas Food Bank earning supplemental income packing food boxes to be placed on the tables of North Texans in need. It is inspiring to be part of such a powerful collaboration of community organizations, philanthropists, businesses and hunger relief providers who all mobilized quickly to impact so many negatively affected by the pandemic.”
After the North Texas commencement, Get Shift Done for North America was soon launched, and the program expanded to Austin, El Paso, Houston, New Orleans, Arkansas, Washington D.C. and several more areas.
Over the past year, Get Shift Done has served 60 million meals and paid nearly $15 million in wages. More than 28,000 workers assisted 110 nonprofit agencies in 12 different regions.
The initiative was ranked number one under the not-for-profit category in Fast Company’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2021, and was named number 28 in their World’s Top 50 Most Innovative Companies list.
According to North Texas Food Bank President Trisha Cunningham, demand for food seemingly increased overnight. She said that she doesn’t know what the food bank would have done if not for the support of Get Shift Done. During her remarks at the celebration, she surprised Anurag and Patrick with a special recognition from Governor Greg Abbott.
“I think what this has really proved is that collaboration works,” she said. “When our community has a problem, we try to fix that problem.”
Others recognized Tuesday night for their support included Ross Perot, Jr., Kathryn Hall and Dave Scullin, as well as Ken Hersh of the George W. Bush Center. He revealed that the former president had also quietly donated to Get Shift Done.
The program’s founding supporters include AccessHealthcare, Communities Foundation of Texas, Mark Cuban, Craig and Kathryn Hall, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Margot Perot and Family, Sarah and Ross Perot Jr. Foundation, Katherine Perot Reeves and Eric Reeves, Shiftsmart, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Capital One and When I Work.
Cheryl Jackson, the founder of Plano-based Minnie’s Food Pantry, said that Mark Cuban had also made sizable donations to keep her nonprofit running. According to her, the food panty went from serving 5,000 people per month to 30,000 monthly after March 15, 2020. Her staff of 17 employees began working 12- to 15-hour days, seven days a week, but still struggled to keep up with demand. Then she learned about Get Shift Done and was able to get workers to help serve the community in one of its greatest times of need.
“You sent in people who put the word ‘human’ in the word ‘humanitarian,’ who cared about the community just as much as we did,” she said, thanking Anurag and Patrick. “Now as we fast-forward, just in one year alone we provided over five million meals because of the workers from Get Shift Done.”Get Shift Done >