GW Alumnus Uses Electric Shuttles to Deliver Food Donations

FLARE, an electric shuttle service co-founded by GW alumnus Chris Yeazel, has been collecting food donations for a Northern Virginia food assistance center.

With FLARE's electric shuttles, drivers are transporting food donations to a Northern Virginia food assistance center. (Photo courtesy Chris Yeazel)
April 20, 2020

By Briahnna Brown

Once it became clear to him how serious the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be, Chris Yeazel, B.A. ’06, M.P.A. ’14, knew he had to be part of the solution.

As COO of FLARE, an electric shuttle service in Arlington, Va., with deep community ties, Mr. Yeazel reached out to people in the area and learned that food donations needed a way to get to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). Mr. Yeazel stepped forward, using FLARE’s vans to pick up the donations from apartment complexes in the Crystal City and Aurora Highlands neighborhoods and safely deliver them to AFAC, sanitizing the vans between food drop offs.

Mr. Yeazel’s time as a George Washington University student taught him about the necessity of doing everything sustainably, he said, especially through the courses he took in the Sustainable Urban Planning program in the College of Professional Studies.

That inspired him to co-found FLARE as a fixed-route shuttle service that connects neighborhoods while prioritizing safety, accessibility and sustainability in everything that they do. For him, he said FLARE is about figuring out what are the “very, very simple things we could do to build a more sustainable society.

"We really want to be a part of building a more equitable, sustainable and accessible mobility system in the coming years," Mr. Yeazel said.

Launched in November 2019, FLARE is a contract passenger carrier that partners with apartment complexes and civic associations to transport residents where they need to go. Since stay-at-home orders took effect in Virginia, FLARE has been transporting food rather than residents. On its first food run, FLARE picked up around 820 pounds of food donations, and after just three total runs it has delivered about 1,500 pounds.

Mr. Yeazel said that he is looking into more ways to get involved in the COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts through FLARE, including helping health care workers and local businesses so that more people can be directly involved in FLARE’s efforts. Those interested in helping in the food donation efforts should donate to AFAC or any other donation box location, he said.

"I just encourage people to find any way they can to help people in their community get through this,” Mr. Yeazel said. “Whether it's just checking in on older folks or people in vulnerable populations—any way they can do their part to help everybody get through this together."

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