What to expect: The Foodbank pilots new neighbor intake system

What to expect: The Foodbank pilots new neighbor intake system

The platform, created by Feeding America, will allow us to collect more insights about the people we serve

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager

Thanks to a new partnership with Feeding America, The Foodbank is piloting a new neighbor intake platform. This platform will allow us to better understand the people we serve and evaluate our services, but may cause some minor disruption as we adapt to the new system.

The new platform is very similar to PantryTrak, the system we already use, which was created by our friends at Mid-Ohio Food Collective. However, the new program will collect more complex demographic information so that we can evaluate how well we are reaching communities that are traditionally underserved.

We are already using the new system to sign-in clients at select Mobile Pantry and Drive Thru Food Pantry distributions. Significantly, we are unable to import our historic client database to the new system at this time.

PantryTrak has enabled us to quickly pull up our returning neighbors’ profiles without entering more detailed information, but we must create a new profile for each individual for this new system. Fortunately, this is a one-time process — you will not need to provide this information for each consecutive visit.

If you are unable to provide any of the following information, you will not be turned away from receiving food. Our team does everything we are able to, in keeping with state and federal guidelines, to make sure anyone who reports a need for food receives assistance.

The new platform will require the following information from clients:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth OR age
  • Street address
  • Number of adults (18-59), seniors (60+), and children in the household
  • Date of birth OR age of each family member

If you are picking up on behalf of another household, you will need to provide this information about the family you are picking up for.

We’d like to remind you that we are required to collect the above information about each client to receive federally-purchased food. While we strive to make our programming as user-friendly as possible, we must follow federal and state guidelines to distribute food. (In special circumstances, we are able to find alternative solutions — such as offering food that is nor federally purchased — to ensure no one goes hungry.)

As we move further in the pilot process, we will be asking additional questions to help understand who we are serving. You may decline to respond to any of the following questions:

  • What race or ethnicity do you identify as?
  • What gender do you identify as?
  • Does anyone in your household receive SNAP/food stamps?

Finally, we will be piloting optional questions to gather information such as dietary restrictions, disability status, and veteran status. You may decline to respond to any question you do not wish to answer.

We are grateful for our neighbors’ patience as we collect this vital information. We are so excited to use this data to better serve our community.

If you have questions about this pilot, call Lauren Tappel at (937) 461-0265 x40


Wholesale Food Purchases Help Provide Better Choices for Our Neighbors

Wholesale Food Purchases Help Provide Better Choices for Our Neighbors

Valley Food Relief, our annual partnership with the Dayton Daily News, contributes to our wholesale budget —
here’s why that matters

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager

At The Foodbank, our goal is not simply to provide as much food as possible — it matters to us that the meals we provide are as nourishing, life-sustaining, and culturally appropriate as the food our neighbors would choose to purchase for themselves.

That’s why our in-house food purchase program is so important. Every year, we receive generous food donations from a variety of sources, including food drives, retail stores, and food purchased by the federal and state government. Last fiscal year, these donations were valued at over $18 million, roughly 80% of our organization’s total budget.

Our wholesale food purchase program fills important gaps in donated product. Often, we use these funds to acquire frozen meat, fresh vegetables, and specialty items. Sometimes, we purchase food for special diets, such as nutrition shakes for our older adults. Around cultural holidays, we purchase turkeys, hams, and other foods that our neighbors can enjoy with their families.

Food purchases also play a critical role in our direct service programs. While the majority of the food we acquire is distributed to our 98 partner agencies in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties, we operate several outreach programs to serve special populations.

When we pilot a new program, we typically offer a pre-set menu to keep the program consistent. This helps us to evaluate the program at the end of the pilot. Because of the wide variety of donations we receive, we need to purchase program-specific food so we always have enough product on hand.

Some of our other programs, such as our Dayton Children’s Rx Boxes and Good-to-Go Backpack Program, also use purchased food. Because children are a high-risk population, we cannot use donated or extended-date food. Purchasing food for these programs also helps us include healthy, kid-friendly options for the young ones who use the programs.

Last year, we distributed over $600,000 in purchased food — more than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, we typically purchased between $400,000 and $500,000 in food, but the increasing demand for food assistance has led us to buy more product. We anticipate we will need to purchase around the same amount this year to keep up with elevated demand.

While supply chain disruptions have increased food costs nationwide, this program is critical to our operations and the neighbors we serve. For all the reasons above, we must operate a robust purchase program alongside the generous food donations we receive from the community.

Valley Food Relief, our annual partnership with the Dayton Daily News, typically provides nearly half of our total food purchase budget. We are grateful for the support of DDN, who have supported us in this campaign for around forty years now.

Because of our large size, we are able to purchase food in bulk from retailers at a lower cost than you can find at the grocery store. We purchase food based on agency requests, direct-service program needs, and feedback from the people we serve.

While the holidays are wrapping up, Valley Food Relief is still going strong until January 10. To contribute, go to https://thefoodbankdayton.org/donate/ and select Valley Food Relief.

Every dollar raised through this campaign goes toward the purchase of healthy food for our Miami Valley community!