For years the staff and volunteers of our Customer-Choice Food Pantry have been trying to come up with a way to make the food pantry experience more dignified for our guests. How could we create a system where guests didn’t feel they had to wait in long lines, in the cold and in the rain, just to receive food? Other pantries had found ways around long lines, early hours, and the occasional verbal altercation, but none of their solutions fit the makeup of the Xavier Pantry. Combine these issues with a dependence on paper files, and it seemed like we would never move our Pantry into the 21st century.
On June 10th, all of that changed! Xavier Mission had been approached by a team that created an app specifically for food pantries in New York City, called Plentiful, to register guests and make reservations for pantry visits. Over the last few months we have been working with the team from Plentiful, importing our client list into the database, training our volunteers on the new system, and finally setting up a reservation process with our guests. Now our guests no longer needed to stand in line for hours to receive food. They can download this app and make a reservation for a specific time. If the guest doesn’t have the app, it’s not a problem. An easy-to-use text message feature instructs the guest on how to make a reservation. If the guest doesn’t have a phone, still no problem! We can make a reservation over the telephone or on-site for them.
We’ve had more than 130 reservations for each of our pantry days since we went live. The Plentiful App is a success!