Cupboard Enters the 21st Century!

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Mother Hubbard's Cupboard
City & State:
North Carolina
Organization Website:
We do not have a web site
Organization's Mission Statement

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is called to serve those who are hungry in the Wilmington area through distribution of non-perishable emergency food. This service is provided by volunteers in partnership with the community, without regard to race or religion and with care to preserve the dignity of the individuals being served.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is a food pantry in Wilmington, North Carolina which served around 21,000 people in 2008. The city of Wilmington has a population of around 76,000, but if you include our county (New Hanover), the population is nearly 100,000. We also serve people from nearby Brunswick and Pender Counties, bringing our service area population closer to 347,000. As a food pantry, we provide emergency non-perishable food for those who come to us. Our organization is composed entirely of volunteers and is overseen by an 11 member Board of Directors. We are open M, Tu, W, Th, F, Sa from 1-3pm, except on major holidays. On each day we are open, a staff of volunteers distributes the food to hungry people. Less than 10% of those we serve are homeless, the rest have a place to live, but too little to eat or not enough to pay for both shelter and food. The Cupboard began operation in 1987 and, until August of 2009, kept data on clients on index cards with an alphabetical filing system and a daily data sheet. When we served 10-20 families a day, this system was pretty workable. It was also preferable for most of our volunteers who were in their 70’s and 80’s. But there were frequent problems with mistakes in alphabetizing, losing cards, forms which were not filled out and we were unable to collect the amount of data requested by the Food Bank and needed for our own grant-writing purposes. As requests for food increased and we served 30, 40 and sometimes 90 families during our 2 hour shifts, volunteers were staying over hours or closing before all clients were served. Both clients and volunteers were unhappy, frustrated and looking for change. We decided to join the 21st Century and buy computers and find a database to improve our situation. We wrote a grant to a local foundation for a database and computers. During the process, they called us in, suggested our grant was quite overpriced and referred us to another food serving agency who had used Tech Soup to obtain technology for their needs at a greatly reduced price. With this new information, we re-wrote our grant at less than half the original amount and were funded by the foundation. We were able to buy two laptop computers (from Tech Soup), Access database, antivirus protection, a printer/copier, a networking system and memory sticks with our $3,500 grant. Through Tech Soup, we found a free database for food pantries donated by Bob Alston, a retired IT person. Bob has worked with us as we have tailored the program for our specific needs. How has this technology made an everday difference for us? 1. Improved efficiency and service to clients: This has happened at a time when, due to the economic downturn, we have seen a 33% increase in food requests over the same time last year. We average serving 50 families per day. 2. Happier volunteers: We easily finish within our two-hour span with less frustration and more satisfaction from client/volunteer interactions. 3. Better data: We have more and varied data for reports on our clients to give to the Food Bank and for our own grant-writing. 4. New volunteers: An unexpected outcome has been that, during this process, we have also attracted new and younger volunteers who are computer savvy and physically more able to participate in packing and lifting boxes of food. We have recently received a grant to obtain a desktop server from Tech Soup to increase the memory of our system and thereby increase the speed of the two networked laptop computers. In the future, we will include our donors and our volunteers in the database. For now, that recording is done by individual volunteers on their home computers. Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard board and volunteers are extremely grateful for the high quality product Microsoft produces and for the presence and offerings of TechSoup, whose support before and after we buy products has been incredible. This idea of “recycling” computers in this way is genius! Thanks so much! Jane Spicer President Board of Directors Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard 910 392-1551

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery