Food Pantry Uses Technology and Kindness to Help Feed Hungry

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For the past couple years, the food pantry at Queens Commonpoint in New York has been using an online method to serve their customers. The change occurred after a tragic fire that displaced where they originally called home. 

Their system is by appointment only, so it was already conducive to an online format. Additionally, most of their customers are above the poverty line, not below. Both factors contributed to people within the district adjusting to this system and even tripling the amount of people they serve. The article said they served 2,870 people in April of 2019. For comparison, food pantries in Columbus are serving as many as 5,000 people in a month, which has increased even more since the pandemic. 

This article presented some of the pros involved with this system. Pick-up is much more efficient because it doesn’t require checking-in, which can be very time-consuming. They also gives households the opportunity to order the food that they want. Each family gets a certain amount of points per month to spend on whatever food they have in stock. These both seem to be very beneficial for both the volunteers and the community. 

Further research may need to be conducted to determine the cons of this system. For example, how accessible of a system is this to other communities? Have households been able to take advantage of this system by using multiple addresses to secure more food? How often do technological issues present obstacles for its stakeholders? 

Lastly, this article mentions that food pantries are meant to be a meal supplement, not a primary resource. Food pantries distribute otherwise food waste to households in their community. Is any food being wasted by families not wanting to buy it? If so, how does this waste compare to families that receive food and don’t use it anyways? These questions being answered will offer a better solution to how effective the online system is for food pantries.