Feeding Charlotte reached out to Apparo seeking a corporate volunteer team to help them more efficiently solve issues of hunger and food waste in our community.
Feeding Charlotte strives to relieve hunger while reducing waste by connecting surplus, freshly prepared meals to members of our community experiencing food insecurity. This is accomplished through partnerships with restaurants, institutions and caterers that have leftover fresh meals, which are then delivered to local nonprofits that feed our hungry neighbors in Charlotte. In their first year alone, Feeding Charlotte rescued over 12,000 pounds of food.
Feeding Charlotte leadership reached out to Apparo looking for a solution to more efficiently coordinate their existing food donors and recipients. They were managing their processes via phone, text messaging and Excel and were confident that with improvements they would be able to increase food donations and come closer to fulfilling the community’s needs. This is especially critical today, given the pandemic when universities and colleges, who were once their biggest donors are not operating their dining services. Currently, Feeding Charlotte is able to cover 50-75% of the needs that come to them. They are enthusiastic to bridge this gap.
Apparo matched Feeding Charlotte to a corporate volunteer from AAA Carolinas, Phani Kolanuvada, who reviewed their processes, conducted marketplace research and advised on the best software application to meet their needs: Food Rescue US. See PDF of Project overview Snapshot.
Kim Aprill, Director of Food Recovery Operations, shares that they are very excited about the selection of Food Rescue US. “The people who run the app are fantastic. They are so kind to us, will support us with help and answers to our questions. It’s the perfect app with the perfect people to go along with it. Before connecting with Apparo, we thought we would need to create our own app. I can’t even imagine how much time it would have taken us to figure out how to get an app created and how much money we would have spent.”
Upon the completion of their Community Impact Project, we checked in with Kim and Mendy Godman, Feeding Charlotte’s Director of Operations to learn about the anticipated impact of implementing the Food Rescue US app.
Kim described their current processes and how they are far from ideal. “It’s a lot of back and forth with phone calls and texts with those who have food to donate and those seeking food. When it comes to reporting milestones, I have to go into our spreadsheets and add things up with a calculator.”
Feeding Charlotte anticipates saving 370 hours of administrative time annually, time that will be put to work to expand their reach and impact.
Kim anticipates saving 5 hours a week on the matching and scheduling process. She will now be able to focus on expansion of two new programs:
- Collection of CMS meal bundles (5 breakfasts and 5 lunches) – They have collected 1,000+ meals in the first 3 weeks alone.
- Education on food waste and insecurity – The freed time will allow them to work on developing their educational content.
Mendy is enthusiastic about saving time in their data collection and reporting efforts. “Right now, everything is entered manually in Excel, every pickup, every volunteer. With the app, it will be streamlined and automated, saving me about 2 hours a week.”
Kim adds that it will also help save time with end of year summaries for each food donor, Board reporting and gathering data on milestones for social media and newsletters.
The Food Rescue US app will help Feeding Charlotte communicate their impact, which is expected to help raise additional reach and funds.
Mendy explains the value of easy access to data. “The numbers help our constituency understand our impact, so that they are aware that we are moving the needle. We can talk about rescuing food all day, but it really makes a difference when you can say that we rescued 2,000 meals or 15,000 pounds of food. The numbers drive the emotional impact that drives donations.” Kim adds that these types of impact figures will also be helpful in opening the door to more grant funding.
The fact that the tool is free allows them extra budget to spend on marketing. Kim is optimistic that “once the word gets out, it will increase our support and donations.”
Feeding Charlotte anticipates increasing their volunteer engagement by 80%, efficiently benefitting from a volunteer force for the first time.
The Food Rescue US app will allow community members to easily log in to take on a recurring role or one-time food pick-up when they have time. Currently, when the recipient organization is unable to pick up the food on their own, Feeding Charlotte staff do it for them. The use of volunteers will:
- Increase bandwidth for Feeding Charlotte leadership – “Knowing we have the back-up will be huge for our peace of mind,” shares Kim.
- Decrease gas expense
- Improve experience for recipient organizations who can have a volunteer pick-up and deliver their food
- Expand support base in the community, which is anticipated to lead to increased donations
The automation will mitigate risk and deliver a better user experience, which is expected to DOUBLE food donations, allowing them to deliver nearly 13,000 more meals in 2021.
Kim shares that she is excited to stop worrying about missing a phone call or making a data entry error. Mendy adds, “The app will increase accessibility, which will help us save more food from landfills and get it those who need it.”
Kim explains the importance of a better, more professional, automated experience for her constituents. “Our current food donors will be so excited. No more back and forth with me! It should take them no more than a minute to post the details of the food they have available. Also, knowing we have volunteers to help pick up the food, they will be more likely to enter available food more often, not worrying about my bandwidth to help with pick-ups/deliveries or worrying about calling me too late at night. It will be better for the food recipients as well, who can easily search through the donation options.”
In conclusion, the project team shared appreciation for Apparo and each other.
Kim – “Phani, we are so grateful for you. You have been amazing to work with. Thank you for volunteering your time to work with us. We needed a professional like you to guide us. We didn’t even know how to get started with this process.”
Phani – Volunteer – “It’s great to hear what impact it’s going to make. It was a great experience overall. Thank you to Apparo for creating this opportunity for me.”
Mendy – “This was the perfect little present for us with a nice bow. When we talk about it, Kim and I light up like Christmas trees. The skies opened and the stars aligned. Otherwise, today we would still be working on figuring out how to create our app. This saved us so much time and energy. You guys are phenomenal, thank you.”