Software Donations Expand Cincinnati Food Bank's Reach
The Freestore Foodbank is the third-largest food bank in Ohio, serving more than 160,000 people a year. It is also the largest emergency social services outlet in the greater Cincinnati area.
Freestore is unique among food banks because it operates an emergency client services center in one of Cincinnati's most impoverished inner-city neighborhoods. Freestore offers the city's most vulnerable citizens (including the homeless, the unemployed, and the working poor) services to help with housing, food, clothing, transportation, access to healthcare, identification, referrals to job training, and other everyday needs.
Freestore's many programs include a mobile food pantry that serves people living in rural areas and others who are unable to come into its other pantries for emergency food assistance. Its Kids Cafe provides nutritious hot meals to tens of thousands of children. The Power Pack program provides nutritious food for children to take home over the weekend. Cincinnati Cooks! provides a 10-week culinary training program to help adults develop new job skills. More than 400 students have graduated from the program, 70 percent of whom found jobs.
Previously the Freestore Foodbank was hampered by its inability to communicate and share information across its multiple sites. Its servers and software were outdated: it was difficult to share files between sites or to communicate with donors, members, and the public, and there were no working backup systems. Freestore was able to obtain much-needed software through the Microsoft Donation Program and TechSoup. The software helped the organization standardize its network and computers while securing its systems. After installing Microsoft Exchange 2007, Freestore moved its entire staff onto a single mail platform, saving the organization more than $7,000 a year.