Pile of root vegetables

Fresher, Faster

How one charity revolutionized helping Americans facing hunger

Each year, about 70 billion pounds of food is wasted.

It seems like an impossibly big number: more than 46 million Americans face hunger each year. But one organization is making a difference.

With a network of 200 food banks across the US, Feeding America is the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, and they’re on a mission.

They’re on a mission to help ensure that no child has to figure out how to make the PB&J from their school lunch last until bedtime. They’re on a mission to prevent the stress a parent faces as they try to feed their family by stretching one bag of rice out until next payday.

This charity is leading the fight against hunger, and they’re doing it by serving up 3.3 billion square meals to Americans every single year.

Despite the fact they serve millions in need, the rates of hunger are still holding steady at record rates.

Feeding America works to meet this need by continuously seeking new ways to get more food to more people. One solution lies in America’s farm fields – billions of good, surplus food goes to waste each year. What if Feeding America could rescue it and get it onto the plates of people in need?

It was a good idea, but one that came equipped with a multitude of challenges. Farmer cooperation wasn’t an issue. Many farmers wanted to donate their extra crops to local food banks but faced infrastructure challenges that made it a difficult and complicated task.

The biggest of these challenges was time. When farmers contacted Feeding America, it could take up to a week to get donations from the farms to local food banks. That’s because the donation process was highly manual, prone to errors and time-consuming. When it comes to cans of soup or bags of flour, a few days on the shelf isn’t a big deal, but when it comes to fresh produce, the most necessary and vital of food groups, it makes a world of difference.

As a result, the literal fruit of their labor was filling landfills instead of stomachs.

Accelerating the process from farms to hungry tables.

We can’t fight hunger alone.

In order to help get people facing hunger the nutritious, fresh food they need, Feeding America knew it would have to overcome these challenges.

That’s when they reached out for help from Microsoft Partner alligatortek– a custom-software development company – to devise an easy-to-use tool that would manage the donation process.

From weeks to minutes.

Using Microsoft SQL Server and Office 365, alligatortek developed the Produce Donor Portal, a cloud-based site that allows for a more automated and quicker workflow.

"A process that used to take up to a week, has now been reduced to minutes, meaning that fresh produce gets into the hands of those who need it faster than ever before."

- Bill Thomas, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Feeding America

This portal is easy to get to any time, from anywhere, which is important for farmers who are usually working in fields from sunrise to sunset. An easier tool means it’s much easier for farmers to let Feeding America know that they have produce available.

Feeding America uses the same portal to review and accept donations, so the entire system now runs closer to real-time, meaning more critical nutrients get to more of those who need them.

Ending hunger nationwide — more efficiently.

Feeding America aims to make produce one of their largest single category of food, sourcing about 1 billion pounds each year. And the Produce Donor Portal is an important part of making that a reality.

With each click of the portal, Feeding America revolutionizes how Americans facing hunger get the food they need, one veggie (or fruit) at a time.

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Feeding America is particularly focused on getting more fresh fruits and vegetables to the people it serves, and alligatortek’s portal helps to ensure produce reaches people facing hunger before it spoils.

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