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Pizza to the Polls is using free slices to motivate voters to stay in line

Can free pizza help voters stay in line longer?
Pizza to the Polls was initially founded in 2016, but the response this year has been "overwhelming" compared to that election.
Pizza to the Polls was initially founded in 2016, but the response this year has been "overwhelming" compared to that election.Katty Huertas / TODAY / Getty Images

The 2020 election has brought record-breaking numbers of voters to the polls, which means long lines and plenty of hungry people waiting on those lines.

Much like Jose Andres' Chefs for the Polls initiative, the nonprofit Pizza to the Polls is trying to help with at least one part of the issue — by delivering thousands of free pizzas to potential voters. That way, no one has to get out of line to get a meal.

"We just want to make sure that everyone at polling places is able to be fed and never leaves just because they're hungry," Amirah Noaman, the program director at Pizza to the Polls, told TODAY Food. "It's nice to see people being responsive. (People have said) they feel like they would have left if someone hadn't shown up to give them a pizza, and it's encouraged them to wait it out."

Pizza to the Polls was initially founded in 2016, but the response this year has been "overwhelming" compared to that election, Noaman said.

"The lines have been so much longer," Noaman continued. "We've sent thousands of pizzas so far, and in addition to on-demand pizza we also launched a food truck program in partnership with UberEats, so we now have food trucks in 29 cities that are giving out individually wrapped snacks to people around polling places."

An Uber spokesperson provided the following list of cities to Food and Wine where over 250 of these food trucks will be stopping, all the way through Election Day: Phoenix, AZ; Los Angeles, CA; Washington, DC; Miami, FL; Tampa, FL; Orlando, FL; Gainesville, FL; Atlanta, GA; Louisville, KY; Detroit, MI; Ann Arbor, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Charlotte, NC; Raleigh, NC; Greensboro, NC; Las Vegas, NV; Reno, NV; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Charleston, SC; Nashville, TN; Houston, TX; Austin, TX; and Milwaukee, WI.

According to a tracker on the Pizza to the Polls website, over 15,000 pizzas have been sent to more than 800 polling places in 39 states since the start of early voting for the 2020 election.

"I certainly think (food) helps a situation, especially when we're seeing people willing to stand up to eight or 10 or 12 hours on line," Noaman said. "I think it makes people feel like other people care about them, and we're really happy to be able to provide that for anyone who's at one location, to boost their morale a little bit."

The pizzas are funded by donations, and Noaman said the organization works with a mix of local pizzerias and big-name brands to make sure that voters are fed.

"People report (a long line) on our website, and then we verify that the location is correct and that there is indeed a wait, and we work directly with our partner Slice, which works with pizzerias," Noaman said. "We do a combination of local and larger pizza brands."

Noaman said that while the pizzas are delivered after seeing lines at polling places, the food isn't reserved for just voters.

"The food is for anyone and everyone around, whether it's someone who's casting a ballot, a poll worker, or somebody just walking by," she said. "We're there to feed everybody."