In the midst of a pandemic, a local startup business is hiring full-time staff to support food banks.

Knoq, a Lehi business headquartered in Boston, is pivoting from its day-to-day operations of developing neighborhood communications to guide direct-to-customer products to help food banks, nonprofit organizations and grocery stores deliver food to residents in need.

Founder and CEO Kendall Tucker said in order to meet the high demand, the company is looking to hire 30 full-time employees in Utah County.

“I truly believe that crises bring out the best in people,” Tucker said. “When our team first sat down about a month ago, the unanimous agreement was that we wanted to do something to help during this time. First and foremost, we wanted to keep our team involved.”

Knoq hires and trains neighborhood representatives to speak with consumers about what they need in order to help connect them with local entrepreneurs who can meet their needs.

In early March, the company pressed pause on community outreach to keep its staff and community members safe during the pandemic, but Tucker wanted to continue to support Knoq’s employees while serving the community.

Knoq has dozens of employees across three cities in the U.S.: Boston, Kansas City and Lehi. Its employees are background checked.

The company began reaching out to food banks and nonprofit organizations offering them manpower in a time where there is an unprecedented demand for these organizations. Tucker said the idea behind the company is “neighbors helping neighbors,” which is why she felt the need to lend resources to essential organizations.

“We’re really lucky, and a bunch of nonprofits and grocery stores said yes,” she said.

Now, Knoq employees are partnering with Kroger and United Way as well as local food banks to deliver food to families porches as well as organize food boxes for the community. In the first week, the company has served 650 families nationwide.

Once the company leaders made the decision to continue helping the community, they sat down each of their employees and explained the situation. Tucker said she would have loved for every employee to continue with the company but understood that no everyone felt comfortable.

Employees who stayed on would receive $5 more each hour as hero pay and those who could not continue were paid severance out of Tucker’s personal salary.

“The vast majority of people decided to stay on, and now we’re trying to hire 90 more people,” she said. “There’s such a huge demand right now, and we want to give people jobs.”

Knoq is looking for individuals with high emotional intelligence who want to serve their community. Tucker said the most ideal employee would be those who were working in hospitality or restaurants before the pandemic, or college students who have not returned home and are in need of jobs.

The position starts at $20 an hour, which is broken down into $15 an hour regular pay and $5 an hour hero pay. Health benefits will also be available to employees who work more than 30 hours each week.

The entire hiring process, from application to interview to the onboarding process, is done remotely. Once an employee accepts the offered position, Tucker said they will send a care package with instructions on how to stay safe as well as protective equipment.

Once employees begin working, they are either completing no-contact food deliveries or working in food banks, which are taking the necessary precautions and following state and federal health recommendations to keep residents and volunteers safe.

For each food delivery, Tucker said Knoq is also including instructions for how homeowners can safely dispose of the boxes used to deliver food.

Knoq is looking to hire 30 employees around Utah County to serve the Lehi community.

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