An Uncommon Solution to Hunger
Almost everyone who lives in New York City has experienced a traumatic trip to the grocery store. Crowds of locals and tourists alike, all pushing together, while trying to find the person holding the “end of line forms here” sign. It’s enough to make anyone have a nervous breakdown.
The folks at New York Common Pantry (formerly known as Yorkville Common Pantry) have found a way to remove some of the stress when grocery shopping for the folks who rely on the pantry for emergency food. By integrating technology into the process, NYCP is more efficient and therefore helps more of our neighbors in need. Last week we spent the day helping staff and volunteers at NYCP fulfill pantry orders, package food and serve hot meals to more than 220 individuals. This is an average day for the pantry.
Every week, Wednesday through Saturday, NYCP helps thousands of individuals and families (known as pantry members) choose diverse and nutritionally balanced groceries. After registering for the program, pantry members can order their food in advance through NYCP’s website or on-site by using wireless touch-screen tablets with the help of a volunteer. As soon as the order is submitted, volunteers begin packing each bag accordingly and by the time the member heads up to the pantry, the bags are ready to go.
The amount of food that members can order is based on family size and the items listed on the screen are only those currently in stock. By synching their inventory and ordering systems, NYCP ensures that members get food they like and nothing is wasted. Not only does this system improve the overall experience for their members, but it also allows NYCP staff to track and monitor the people coming in the door and the food going out.
In 2012, NYCP served nearly two million meals to 8,000 families and hot meals to more than 10,000 kitchen guests. Through Single Stop services, NYCP helped connect poor families to nearly $2 million in benefits beyond food.
To learn more about volunteering with NYCP, please visit their website: http://www.nycommonpantry.org/volunteer.html