Meeting the Needs of the Needy

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry
City & State:
Organization's Mission Statement

The Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry is a non-profit organization that provides food, non-food products, clothing and other household products to the needy in Boone County. We desire to be a bridge to help transition those facing hard times until they become self-sufficient. Our goal is to give people hope and to make a difference in their lives. To improve the diets of school and preschool children, the elderly, needy people in charitable institutions, and other individuals in need of food assistance.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Prior to March 2008, our facility only had three stand-alone computers and obsolete software. In March 2007, we were serving 800 to 900 people each month. Now that we are serving 1600 to 1800 people each month, and our updated computers and software enable us to serve our clients more efficiently. The software from Microsoft has not only enabled us to process more people, but we spend less time doing it. Instead of processing 75 to 100 families in an eight-hour period, we are serving 150 to 170 families in a six-hour period.

Nearly 1 in 5 people in Belvidere are unemployed according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, while Boone County’s unemployment rate is hovering around 16 percent, one of the highest in the State of Illinois. The poverty level in Boone County is nearly 5,000 people. The Chrysler Corporation in Belvidere (who employees hundreds of people in our community) continues to lay off more and more people. Since we are the only facility in our County that supplies food, non-food, clothes, furniture, etc., at no cost to the client, we needed to update our technology. With the growing number of people unemployed, people living in poverty and the homeless people in our community, we knew we had to improve the way we track our clients in order to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. Our facility has a very small budget for any technology improvements so when someone told us about Microsoft’s connection with TechSoup, so we went to their website. We were amazed at the prices for the software offered by Microsoft on this website. In February of 2008, the Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry and Resource Center purchased the 2007 Application of Microsoft Office Professional Plus, Microsoft Math 3.0, and Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition. Our software for our facility, prior to the purchase of Microsoft products, was obsolete. We received three computers, monitors, and keyboards from the Computers for Schools program in our area. Since the purchase of these three software packages from Microsoft through TechSoup and learning the basics, we have been able to bring our facility into the 20th century. We have updated our client files by writing a program through Microsoft Access. Prior to the set up of this new program, our clients waited 30 to 45 minutes for their turn to be checked-in. Now, if the client is not a new client, check-in time is 2 to 3 minutes. It is amazing to be able to process 170 families in less than six hours. Before we received the software from Microsoft, we could only process 75 to 100 clients in an eight-hour period. When we received the Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition, we were able to network seven computers and printers. This is so important because now the Administrative Assistant, the Director of Operations, the Warehouse Supervisor, and the Executive Director are able to share documents and bring up data that other staff personnel have created, and our personal documents remain personal. All printers are now assessable to all staff members through this network. We have also set up a time and attendance program through Microsoft Access for easy check-in and checkout of staff and volunteers. This program gives us reports by the day, week, month or year. The report tells us how many hours our staff personnel has put in at any given time, tracks the miles the volunteers drive to help us with the pick up and delivery of people and products, and gives us information we need when applying for grants. The reports also assist us in how much time was needed to complete a given project. The Publishing Program from Microsoft was instrumental in assisting us with a fundraiser program. Our program consisted of 20 pages and the Publishing Program made our job effortless. We were able to place advertisements from our sponsors in our program for a real professional look. The Microsoft Excel Program has helped us with our accounting tasks. We have spreadsheets for expenses, donations, pledges, in kind donations, etc. In the future, we plan to use the Microsoft software to inventory our stock, plan route pick-ups, and set up the mail merge program for our mailings.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology