Learning More About Who We Serve
A grandmother raising four grandchildren and working a part-time job. A single woman whose hours were cut back at the gas station where she works and now is dealing with her water being cutoff. A father of five who was laid off after ten years but is not eligible for food stamps until his severance runs out.
“I’m just trying to be careful with how we spend that money because I don’t know when this will end. What I’ve learned is that nothing is for certain and you never, ever know what is next.”
These are the first three clients that came in for help on a recent Thursday night to Helping Hands Ministry in High Point. Food Bankers were present at Helping Hands, which is part of our Guilford County Partner Network, to help the program staff and volunteers implement a new Second Harvest program called Service Insights.
We have always known that our network is very, very good at getting food to those in need. However, until now, we have not been able to gather the detailed information that can truly paint a picture of who we are serving and what is happening in the communities we serve.
In 2016, Second Harvest was one of five pilot sites chosen nationally by our parent organization, Feeding America, to initiate Service Insights. After a rigorous review of several software systems by representatives from across the 18 counties we serve, Link2Feed was selected– a program whose features maximize the benefits of secure data collection for both the Food Bank and for each program in our network—to help collect information and knowledge from people seeking food assistance in Northwest North Carolina.
Since that time, our team has been working tirelessly to bring all the grocery assistance programs (food pantries) in our network on to the Link2Feed system. To date, we have successfully on-boarded 14 of our 18 counties.
The tool is proving to be very helpful to our on-the-ground partners, many of which are small and volunteer-run. In many cases, it is replacing old paper filing systems and making tracking inventory and creating reports much easier.
Moreover, the food bank and our network partners now have access to live, comprehensive data, allowing us all to make evidence-based decisions that will best serve our communities, as we gain valuable insights about the people we serve, their needs, and the barriers they face.
The ability of our network to react quickly to reliable and real-time data is critical in our work to address root causes of food insecurity… it is essential to ending hunger.
Here is a snapshot of data collected from the 14 counties Service Insights is operating in currently (It is important to note that because of COVID, some of our partner food assistance programs have elected to suspend entering data entirely and some are only entering visits on households that were already in L2F – all out of an abundance of caution to mitigate staff, volunteer, and client exposure to the virus):
(Data from from 7/1/19 - 6/30/20)
Unique Individuals = 142,454
Unique Households = 59,258
Percentage of Individuals 18 & Under = 32%
Percentage of Individuals age 60 & Over = 16%
Percentage of Households with at least one member identifying as having diabetes = 14%