Pandemic Pushes Food Bank to Adapt

Case Study: Pandemic Pushes Food Bank to Adapt

About

This St. Louis-based non-profit is a hunger relief organization that provides food and services to 200,000 people each month. Their emergency food distribution is couples with advocacy work and an education program to achieve their mission to nourish and educate our neighbors in need to heal the hurt of hunger.

This organization’s emergency food distribution program includes collecting and distributing 2.75 million pounds of food every month through a network of more than 300 agencies.  

This organization‘s nutrition education spans both childhood education and adult education. Their courses include nutrition and wellness services, cooking classes, and virtual classes. Their childhood focused programs include Operation Backpack, summer meals, and after school meal programs.  

Challenges 

Amidst the pandemic, the community’s need for their service expanded quickly. They have been forced to expand their and emergency response in ways they had never imagined.  This organization had to balance ramping up their operations while practicing social distancing and transitioning some staff to working from home. This organization wanted to meet the growing needs of their community, but had a few technical challenges to work through.  

One huge challenge for this organization was the lack of WiFi in parts of their warehouse. This made it difficult for warehouse staff to maintain a connection to the WiFi while performing vital functions. If the WiFi connection dropped in the middle of a distribution order, the data about those food products would be lost and the process would have to start over. They would also have trouble uploading donation receipts and would have to wait until they were connected to the server. Employees using iPads would sometimes have to physically go back and forth between the warehouse, where they were gathering data, and the office, where they could connect reliably to WiFi to complete business-critical tasks. All of these issues created huge inefficiencies for the team.  

Additionally, the server this organization was using was coming to its end of life. They needed to migrate their essential inventory management platform to a new server with as little disruption to their operation as possible. This platform connects to the iPads in the distribution locations and is essential to their success.  

A program that had traditionally been an in-person educational course for single mothers needed to be transitioned to virtual. The team at this firm was unable to handle all aspects of this transition.  

Solutions 

GadellNet’s team installed two wireless access points in their warehouse. These access points were strategically placed in order to give the team full connection in all areas of the warehouse. This allowed the nonprofit to expand their business operations more fully to their warehouse facility. Efficiencies were created, with much less physical need to go back and forth to the office to connect to WiFi and it streamlined their work. There was no more waiting to connect to a server to get their donors their receipts and no more double work if the connection dropped in the middle of an order.  

To solve the issue with the server and migration, GadellNet created a new server for this organization. Migrating the application took a lot of coordinating. GadellNet had to coordinate with the client and the vendor. The planning was well worth it, as the black out of the application to migrate was contained to a single, planned afternoon. There was minimal disruption to the client.  

In order to help keep the educational program for single mothers underway, GadellNet created forms for the mothers to sign up and set them up with video chat. GadellNet also sourced Chromebooks for these “Momvocates” to make sure they were able to get the education they wanted. 

Results 

  • Wifi brought to warehouse, increasing efficiency and streamlining operations 
  • Business-critical application migrated within managed maintenance window 
  • Secured environment through Multi-Factor Authentication and cybersecurity  
  • Nine “Momvocates” successfully completed food education course 

Quote 

“GadellNet has been a valuable partner throughout the pandemic, enabling us to adapt our technology to rapidly-changing circumstances as we meet the increased need for food and resources in the community. We are grateful for their professionalism, expertise and support.” –Executive Director 

What Was Provided?