How Two Organizations Use Link2Feed’s Food Bank Technology to Enhance Holiday Distributions
Managing mass distribution with Link2Feed’s food bank technology
It’s that time of year again! While the holidays are primarily seen as a time for celebration, for those who struggle with food insecurity, it can also be a season marred by stress and uncertainty. Thankfully, there are many organizations ready to answer the call and provide holiday assistance, support, and food services. As such, preparing to handle an increased number of clients during the busy holiday months can be daunting for organizations, especially when employees and volunteers are looking to take additional time off.
The good news is, Link2Feed is here to help!
As you start prepping for the holiday rush, we wanted to take a moment to share how two of our clients, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Catholic Social Services Alaska, were able to get creative with their management of mass distributions, in the hopes their stories can help provide some helpful tips and tricks. While one organization used our barcode feature to save time and human resources on their intake process, the other adopted Link2Feed’s food bank technology to implement a drive-thru pantry using a mobile distribution model. Read on to find out how your organization can do the same and improve your distributions this holiday season!
Using barcodes to reduce intake and distribution time
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has been providing food assistance for people facing hunger in Pennsylvania since 1980. The Food Bank works with a network of 850+ partner agencies across 11 counties to not only make sure no one goes hungry, but also to stabilize lives and confront issues of chronic hunger, poor nutrition and health.
Earlier this year, the food bank implemented Link2Feed’s barcode feature as part of a pilot program at one of their mass distributions – a drive-up distribution, assigning clients a unique, scannable code. When scanned by a staff member or volunteer during a visit, this code automatically opened the client’s profile in Link2Feed where the food bank staff was able to update and record their visit using either our Quick Click technology or the standard “Services” tab. The barcode tool also made it easier for staff and volunteers to recertify clients and add new clients into the Link2Feed system.
Thanks to barcode scanning, the food bank was able to reduce the total time of their mass distribution for this pilot by half an hour. Their intake process was also improved as they were able to record visits at a much faster pace than the previous months when they were recertifying clients for TEFAP. Moving forward, the food bank is confident that they will save even more time in future distributions and excited as they work to plan further roll-out of barcoding in 2022.
“Our Head of Innovations and Distributions, who is in charge of all mass distributions, called it a model distribution. She was really pleased, and is excited for the future of barcoding at more sites in 2022. This was a big win.” – David Carrico, Vice President of Information Technology at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
If you want to learn more about barcode scanning, check out our “Tips to Speed Up Intake in Link2Feed” blog.
Mobile distribution for drive-through pantries: a winter success story
Catholic Social Services (CSS) is a non-profit working toward creating permanent stability for those they serve in Anchorage, Alaska. CSS provides help through a variety of supportive services and programs, including two shelters, a food pantry, case management, housing support, and a refugee assistance and immigration program. CSS’ mission is to serve those in need, strengthen individuals and families, and advocate for social justice.
As the organization is based in Alaska, standing in line outdoors to access food services can be a grueling and sometimes dangerous experience for clients. In order to provide their clients with a safer and more dignified visit experience, pantry staff developed a plan for a drive-through pantry that allowed clients to wait in their cars and receive food boxes directly into their vehicles. Thanks to Link2Feed’s Intake system, which is run on mobile tablets or cellphones, pantry staff were able to easily look up the client’s profile in the system and efficiently direct other staff members through a walkie talkie to bring the client’s meal box to their car.
Since utilizing Link2Feed in their mobile distribution, CSS Alaska was able to not only improve their clients’ record keeping, but also provide more services for people in need with increased organizational capacity. While before they could only manage to offer one distribution a month, CSS Alaska can now serve clients once a week, with an average of 70-100 households serviced per distribution. Undoubtedly, the drive-through pantry is also appreciated by their clients as they can be in and out within 20 minutes without worrying about the burden of waiting in the cold.
“Our clients prefer receiving food boxes over our previous in-person model just because of how fast and convenient it is. We are working to incorporate more food choice into this mobile distribution model, but the efficiency, quickness, and convenience for clients has been a huge benefit all around.” – Claire Lubke, Program Director at St. Francis House Food Pantry, Catholic Social Services.
CSS Alaska’s mobile distribution is a great example to follow if you are struggling to find a safe and efficient way to get food into the hands of individuals this holiday season, even in severe weather!
We hope these two success stories have inspired you to come up with an innovative way to handle large distributions this holiday season – one that fits in your organization’s mission and best accommodates the needs of your beloved clients.
Happy holidays, and stay safe!