The Cooperstown Food Pantry has announced it has a new platform for registering clients.
The pantry received two computer tablets from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, based in Latham, to implement Service Insights, a web-based platform for registering food pantry clients when they arrive for food distribution, a media release said. The system is used by Feeding America, a national food bank network, which is collecting data about what demographics are using food pantries across the country in order to let Congress know about the need.
The new method is free and designed to better meet the needs of the those the Cooperstown Food Pantry serves and be more precise in learning what food products satisfy clients. The electronic intake process, which launched in Cooperstown on June 26, reduces paperwork and redundancy for food pantry clients and its volunteers.
“Our former system was a binder system,” Will Kleffner, executive director of the Cooperstown Food Pantry, said. The binders listed clients in alphabetical order over the past 15 years on paper. Sometimes these binders would fly open and “hundreds of pages would fall on the floor.” It would take a half-hour to an hour to place the papers back in order.
The new system is “incredibly secure,” and anonymous, he said. The data collected will be used to understand how well the food pantry is helping its community and if other communities need to be served.
According to the release, the Regional Food Bank chose Cooperstown for the pilot program because it has a good reputation for successful pilot programs, swift action and a strong relationship with the Regional Food Bank. Kleffner said Maggie Johnson, who is the director of the Community Cupboard in Edmeston, talked to the Regional Food Bank about “our interest in moving toward more modern methods” of data collection, and “they selected us for this pilot program.” Kleffner and Johnson also serve on the Hunger Coalition of Otsego County.
Kleffner said the food pantry has seen an increase of people using the pantry after the expiration of the enhanced SNAP benefits in March that started during the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased cost of food. The food pantry serves between 150 and 160 households per month or 500 to 515 people throughout northern Otsego County. Last year, it served 130 households and 450 people per month.
The pantry at 25 Church Street in the village receives about 80% of its food from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, he said. Two local Price Chopper supermarkets and the Grand Union supermarket also donate food to the pantry each month. Volunteers sort the fresh produce and food and fill orders for clients to pick up. Kleffner said the pantry doesn’t have a formal delivery route. The pantry works with the Bassett Cancer Center to help its patients and the manager of the center will pick up the orders.
For more information, to volunteer or to receive assistance call, 607-547-8902 or visit https://cooperstownfoodpantry.org/.