Tens of thousands of people in the Midwestern part of the country depend on a food pantry to receive nourishment. Poverty levels are at an all-time high. However, the problem remains that some people with money issues don’t have transportation to go and get the food. Also, they may be too embarrassed or not have the physical means to leave the house either. In Columbus, Ohio, a new pilot program to order food online may change the way people use food banks.
Lutheran Social Services helps around 8,500 families each year. Consequently, the number of people they support could be much higher if they utilize the online service. They currently have five storefront pantries in the central and southern parts of the state. As the state’s most extensive food-pantry system, they hope to have all their food banks operating on the mobile network by April 7th.
First, they could eliminate all their brick and mortar locations and go to mobile units. They would lose all the overhead costs that are associated with operating, and they could put that money back into helping the community. Starting in two months, when a customer logs into their system, they will enter an ID number and a pin. Computerizing the database will allow them to pick and choose the things that they need for their home.
Another advantage is the wasted food will dwindle. When people get pre-boxed food, there are many things that their family cannot use or doesn’t like. The new plan will allow them to pick the things that their family loves. Thus, the waste will be reduced. Still, the concern that many older people won’t know how to operate such a new-fangled system is a concern. While many can rely on family and friends to help them out, some will not have the assistance they need.
Lutheran Social Services is more than willing to help anyone who has trouble operating the system. They realize that there will be some bumps along the way. Not everyone is going to take to this new system right away, so there is no reason to close the brick and mortar locations yet. Plans will need some time to come to fruition.
The Westside location is already using the system. Clients order their food one week and pick them up the next. As anticipated, there has been some issues. More than anything, LSS is worried that those who are isolated and lonely who enjoyed the interaction by coming into the pantry will suffer. Still, overall moving to online ordering is a good move for most of the people and the organization. If this process is successful, it may be a matter of time before other pantries around the country do the same.