Improving Technology, Improving Services to the Hungry

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
The Emergency Food Network of Tacoma-Pierce County
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To provide a reliable food supply so that no person in Pierce County goes hungry.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Serving as the center of the emergency food effort in Pierce County, Washington, The Emergency Food Network (EFN) procures, produces, transports, processes, and stores food and essentials for distribution to local emergency food programs. In order to enhance its operational efficiency and service delivery to food programs, EFN recently purchased Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 and XP Professional. Prior to the installation of these technologies, food bank volunteers and staff had to call the agency to find out what food was available in the warehouse for pickup. Professional staff used hotmail aliases for work email addresses. Documents were not able to be shared in a central location or accessed remotely.

Microsoft technologies have changed all that, and brought the Emergency Food Network into the 21st century. Microsoft technologies have allowed EFN to achieve stability, develop infrastructure, and enhance customer service to food banks, meal sites, volunteers, and to the community as a whole.

Prior to the installation of these technologies, food deliveries and pickups to the EFN warehouse were scheduled only by phone with the receptionist, written on a paper calendar, and photocopied daily for the warehouse staff to plan the schedule for the next day. Now that EFN has the ability to create public calendars on the Exchange Server, appointments can be scheduled by email or phone, are immediately entered into the shared public calendar, and warehouse staff can view the updates immediately and plan accordingly. The ability to work in real-time because of the technological upgrades the server has provided has not only increased the efficiency of the warehouse, but has also improved customer service because of the ability to communicate instantaneously.


The infrastructure provided to EFN by the server has significantly improved the customer service to the emergency food programs it serves. Food programs now receive email communications regarding food availability in the warehouse, which allows food to move much more quickly from the warehouse to the food banks and meal sites and to the tables of those in need. Additionally, the ability to share internal documents has provided the necessary platform for increasing the effectiveness of staff communication. Relationships with volunteers and the agency have also improved significantly. EFN is now able to maintain adequate and immediate communication with its volunteers, update and maintain its volunteer contact list, and schedule volunteer opportunities with ease.


Additionally, all staff has remote access to the Exchange Server, which has increased overall job effectiveness and keeps the organization running smoothly at all times. Whether remotely scheduling food deliveries and pick-ups, communicating with staff and customers from another location, or uploading documents for remote access at public speaking events, this functionality has improved agency efficiency.  

The overall impact of technological infrastructure improvements can be observed through greater staff efficiency and effectiveness, internal and external communications, enhanced collaborations with member programs and volunteers, and higher level customer service.


With continued technological upgrades, EFN hopes to further expand the capacity of the organization by allowing interactive web access for emergency food programs to view food availability in the warehouse. Without the stability of the technologies already in place, this would be impossible to achieve.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
Project Image
Supporting Work Files