Mobilize Comms Blog

How Food Distribution Is Becoming Safer and More Effective Than Ever Before

Posted by Jade Baranski on Mar 24, 2021 8:00:00 AM

Mobilize partnered with a Colorado government agency with a digital transformation to help food-insecure families receive products safely and efficiently. Learn how it works and why it matters.

 

Key takeaways

  • Food banks and distribution centers need new approaches to distribution during COVID-19
  • Mobilize worked with a Colorado Department of Human Services program to implement a new digital process that includes data collection, food distribution, and client intake by text for safer and more effective food distribution
  • Clients simply text a number when they arrive on-site, fill out a survey, and a volunteer puts the food in their trunk
  • More states are now adopting the program for food distribution

The Mobilize team recognizes just how impactful a better communication system can be for nonprofit organizations, especially when pandemic restrictions are in place, but also as a long-term strategic solution.

Our technology can help nonprofits deliver their services more efficiently and keep supporting their audiences. We recently worked with the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) Food and Energy Assistance Division (FEAD) to help them create a better food distribution program to continue serving Colorado communities. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way most nonprofits have to interact with their constituencies. Safety protocols must be established to ensure that services are delivered safely and can continue during a crisis. Nonprofits are also finding these new adoptions to be more efficient and broaden their impact.

One challenge many food banks and distribution centers are facing is maintaining social distancing. By using a technology that incorporates text messaging, communication is fast and safe, and distributions can be made without the risks brought by face-to-face interaction.

Let’s walk through what Colorado’s food distribution program does, the communication platform it runs on, and how this work aligns with the Mobilize mission.

 

What Is the Colorado Food Distribution Program?

The CDHS has a Food Distribution Program (FDP) that delivers foods to homes, food banks, schools, and child care facilities. The program focuses on those in need in Colorado and monitors the actual food products to ensure they are always nutritious and nourishing. 

In addition to household programs and child-focused distribution, the FDP also steps in to provide food to large populations as part of disaster relief services. The program administers The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides emergency food assistance for free to low-income Americans. When disaster strikes, this program is always ready to respond with resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The FDP is an important aspect of the work that the CDHS conducts to support its community in times of need. 

During COVID-19, the FDP found it needed a new solution so that volunteers could implement proper social distancing measures while still serving low-income families in need of food products. That’s when Mobilize stepped in.

 

The Mobilize platform for food distribution

So, how does Mobilize help with food distribution? The platform uses surveys and forms distributed through SMS text messages that help improve processes and increase safety. 

The Mobilize platform allows food distribution center clients to text staff when they arrive on-site. Food products can then be delivered safely to the vehicles without any physical contact.

All clients have to do is text a specific number when they arrive at the facility. They are then directed to fill out a survey specific to their program — all of their personal information is kept secure through the platform. Then a completion page is shown to the volunteer with details pertaining to their food pick-up, and the volunteer places the food in their trunk without the client having to get out of the car or even roll down their windows.

This safe approach is a crucial component of the food distribution process during COVID-19 to ensure that low-income Americans can still receive the food assistance they need safely and efficiently. 

Kathy Underhill, who is the manager of the FDP, said, “At the start of the pandemic, we heard from our contracted food banks and pantries that their existing model of interaction with clients had to change to adhere to social distancing recommendations.”

She said Mobilize has really helped them create a system that works. “This offers an easy solution that allows families in need to get nutritious food without putting them at additional risk through human interaction.” 

The platform, which was developed by Mobilize within 72 hours of Underhill approaching us, is free for any TEFAP agency in Colorado to use since it is paid for by CDHS with federal funds. Metro Caring and Durango Food Bank are a couple of the food distribution programs using the technology in Colorado.

Other states have adopted, or may soon adopt, the program, including Texas, Michigan, and Minnesota.

 

How the platform aligns with the Mobilize mission

Mobilize is fortunate to work with a government organization local to Colorado, where our company is headquartered. Our purpose is to provide more effective and accessible communication with automated messaging for all. 

We support nonprofits and food banks who need to communicate with volunteers, staff, and audiences safely and quickly. Ensuring that services are available to everyone aligns with our mission, so we are glad to be able to help make the food delivery process safer for those in need. 

At Mobilize, we’ve always got your back. We can help you understand all the benefits our platform offers and which plan is right for your organization’s needs. We help nonprofits build awareness and provide new opportunities for donations, support, and connection. 

Some of the biggest benefits of our platform for nonprofits include:

  • Cost-efficient
  • Better targeting
  • Engaging clients with surveys
  • MMS message capability (images, GIFs, videos)
  • Metric tracking and analysis
  • Mass texting in moments

To learn more about how the Mobilize platform supports safe food distribution, or to learn about our plans and pricing, contact the Mobilize team to get started.

Topics: food banks, COVID-19 food distribution, text messaging for nonprofits, Colorado food distribution, text platform for food banks