PHOENIX — A group sent 8,000 pizzas to hungry voters as they waited in long lines that plagued polling places across the country Tuesday.
The group Pizza to the Polls collects social media reports of long lines and doles out pizzas accordingly. The nonprofit enjoyed a boost in recent days because of tweets and donations from celebrities like Debra Messing, Alyssa Milano, Mandy Moore and Patton Oswalt, raising more than $300,000 over a 24-hour period.
Co-founder Katie Harlow of Portland, Oregon, said she and two friends came up with the idea in 2016 after seeing long lines during the early voting.
"We just wanted a way to help out and siphon our jitters into something productive," she said. They picked pizza to keep people in line because of its mass appeal and because it's easily shared.
Yoga teacher Angie Starz ate some cheese pizza delivered by the group during her two-hour wait to cast her ballot in Chicago on Monday.
"People that were crabby and quiet transformed into talkative and were connecting with one another," she said. "It's amazing how a little bit of pizza can shift a mood."
The pizza deliveries are a barometer of where the worst lines are occurring.
"The worst has been Georgia. We're getting reports of three-hour, four-hour lines. Which is really frustrating for us," she said. "We really wish we didn't have to do this."
Harlow said they will be delivering pizza in 2020 as well and will aim to do so until people aren't waiting in voting lines anymore.
"We know we're not changing the world with pizzas, but it's nice to feel like you're making a difference," she said.