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Feed the Polls organizing thousands of meals for 2020 voters in food-insecure areas

For voters worried about their next meal, taking the time to stand in line for hours is a nearly impossible ask.

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Allison Gordon
CNN — For voters worried about their next meal, taking the time to stand in line for hours is a nearly impossible ask.

While many Americans are opting to mail in or drop off their ballots this year, election officials are also expecting high turnout in person -- and accompanying long lines. Lengthy wait times were already a problem on Super Tuesday, during the primary season; and this summer, some voters were stuck waiting in unrelenting heat.

Enter Feed the Polls, a new initiative that aims to give voters free, nutritious meals at polling places on Election Day. Focusing on poorer, food-insecure communities, the group hopes to distribute 50,000 meals on November 3.

The effort, which is a partnership between Zagat and The Infatuation and the nonprofit organization The Migrant Kitchen, does not align with a political party.

"Hunger is nonpartisan. We just want to feed people," Chris Stang, co-founder and CEO of Zagat and the Infatuation, said to CNN. "We are certainly not trying to tell anyone how to vote -- we just want them to vote."

After coming up with the idea, Stang reached out to Nasser Jaber, founder of the Migrant Kitchen, which has delivered food to front-line workers and food-insecure communities across New York City amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For Jaber, who grew up in Palestinian refugee camps, the issue of food insecurity is extremely personal. "It's important to me to feed anyone that is hungry," he said to CNN.

Jaber explained that the pandemic has both exacerbated the food insecurity crisis in the United States and made voting more difficult. For these reasons, he said, Feed the Polls' meals are centered on health and nutrition. "We're not trying to give people bologna sandwiches," he explained. "We give restaurant-quality food. Food with respect."

Feed the Polls is not alone in its quest to encourage voting in nontraditional (and delicious) ways.

Pizza to the Polls, another nonpartisan organization, has sent thousands of pizzas to voters waiting in long lines. This week, the group announced a partnership with Uber Eats to send a fleet of 140 food trucks across the United States to serve poll workers and voters.

In just under a week, Stang said, Feed the Polls has raised more than $14,000 entirely from individual donations through The Infatuation and Zagat's networks, as well as raising awareness online.

"The most encouraging thing is seeing this grassroots fundraising," Stang said to CNN. "We want to put some good out into the world whenever possible."

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