Eastern Illinois Foodbank Achieves Full Agency Participation on Link2Feed

What were your goals for switching to a new service insights software?

Our biggest motivator was to gather clean data. We wanted to get unduplicated, network-wide information for development needs (grant writing and reporting) and to better understand who and where our clients are to identify their needs.

Why did you choose Link2Feed?

We chose Link2Feed due to the sheer amount of information we can collect. Our previous system collected and reported on data agency-by-agency, but with Link2Feed, we can have network-wide reports in just a few clicks.

How did you communicate changing to Link2Feed to your agencies?

We introduced the benefits of using Link2Feed at an agency conference and then began communicating our overall rollout strategy through emails to walk everyone through the process.

How did you prioritize agencies for rollout? How did you get agencies to adopt Link2Feed?

We created an agency survey to determine who would be best suited to be a pilot partner. The pilot ran for 3 months to test the rollout process and we collected their feedback to improve when onboarding the rest. Our second group to switch was the coalition of the willing. 

We gave every agency the equipment and resources needed to help lower the barrier of entry. Chromebooks, tablets and/or signature pads were provided, and we even created a payment system for agencies that struggle with internet access.

After our initial rollout success, we made using Link2Feed mandatory for everyone in our network.

How did you manage training to use Link2Feed? Did you go on-site?

With the first 50 agencies, we did a quick launch with hands-on training the day of and we received feedback that agencies needed more support. For the next 50 agencies, we changed the process. This included an initial planning meeting to talk about the Link2Feed software and determine any resources needed, followed by a month-long practice period and on-site visits to assist with the launch.

By going on-site for some trainings and the live launch, we were able to identify any barriers that needed to be overcome and were able to build additional trust between us and our agencies.

How did you monitor agency usage and data integrity?

We use the Link2Feed dashboard and recurring reports feature monthly to see the data being collected, like the number of visits by agency and the number of new vs existing clients. From this, we can assess if an agency is struggling with intake and connect them with our staff to provide additional support.

What has it been like working with Link2Feed?

With Link2Feed, we all feel more like partners rather than customers.

By using Link2Feed, we have more touchpoints to connect with agencies. Even during COVID, we’ve been able to grow and implement virtual trainings to continue converting agencies.

What do your agencies think of Link2Feed?

The response from agencies gets increasingly more positive as time goes on because they truly start to see the benefits of using Link2Feed, like changing their intake process to enrich support for clients based on needs.

What would you do differently if you could? What advice would you give to other food banks?

If we were to do it again, we would start fresh as opposed to importing the data from our past provider. There were so many duplicates in our previous system that it initially gave us trouble getting organized.

We would also encourage them to utilize the Link2Feed network. Engage with food banks in the state and on the national level who have already gone through implementation and share best practices for additional guidance.

What is the thing that worked best?

Our biggest successes were focusing on creating partnerships between our network and over 170+ agencies and connecting all data points for client intake. Also, building success plans with all existing and future agencies.

Interview with Jacob Bilvin, Data & Technology Coordinator and Emily Yoder Partnership Services Supervisor at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. The Foodbank has been using Link2Feed since 2018 and has met 100% of their onboarding goals over the past two years. They are now working on onboarding congregate meal sites (as of Feb 2021).