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Merc@DUAL, the first online solidarity supermarket for people who need it most

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2,000 vulnerable families turn to Asociación DUAL every month to get the food they need to survive. This NGO founded in Madrid in 2000 and that since 2014 has been collaborating with the Madrid Food Bank Foundation and the city council’s social services, has an urgent care program for families in high need that went from serving 500 families a month to 2,000 overnight in March 2020.

MERC@DUAL: An innovative and technological idea to dignify and normalize the help to those who need it most

Since January 2022, the Association has launched a new initiative: Merc@DUAL, the first online solidarity supermarket nationwide, through which individuals and families benefiting from the Urgent Care Program for Families in Situations of High Need can do their shopping online, without having to wait the misnamed “hunger queues”. 

At OpenSistemas, which has been collaborating with Asociación Dual since 2016 in the collection of food, toys and school supplies, we had the opportunity to talk to Raúl Izquierdo, technical coordinator and psychologist at Asociación DUAL. “Dignify, rationalize and normalize” the situation in which many families find themselves are the main objectives of the project. As Raúl states: “It’s about granting and delivering concrete help to a person in a vulnerable situation”. 

How does it work?

Families can make their purchases through the online application with points that are assigned to them every week. In this way, each family chooses the food and other resources they want to consume as in any other online shopping platform, and chooses a day and time for collection. 

As Raúl states: “This allows us to dignify or diminish the bad personal feeling that can be produced by waiting in a hunger queue. At the same time, it allows us to standardize, integrate, rationalize products, select the most purchased or demanded products, digitize and care for diversity, since the website is in several languages, including Arabic“. They are in the implementation phase to find out what is most demanded, but the idea is to have this data in the near future in order to rationalize and select the most purchased products.

The solidarity sector opens its doors to technology

Merc@DUAL is the digitalization of food delivery to the people who need it most. This is a clear example of how technology and solidarity join forces to help. The digital divide widens even more in vulnerable families, and precisely combating this other inequality is another of the project’s objectives. 

Although there is another very important objective behind it: that this assistance coverage would be as short as possible. As Raúl says: “We have a goal: that our assistance lasts as little as possible. This will be great news, because it will mean that the family is in a better situation.

Find out more in this video of our talk with Raúl:

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