Case Study

The Challenge

The Houston Food Bank has a vital mission: to provide food and resources to those most in need in the Houston community. Food warehousing and delivery must operate efficiently to ensure the programs continually reach those in need. The food bank needed a comprehensive technology program to improve inventory management, employee training and food distribution. And in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, some critical improvements were identified to ensure maximum server uptime, especially when faced with catastrophic disasters.

Pain Points

Manual warehouse operations

Lack of technology tools

Need for enhanced employee training

Centrally located network servers

Service: Digital Transformation

Skills + Technology

Strategy

UI/UX Design

Web Development

AWS

iOS Development

GraphQL

Azure

Database Management

Overview

Application support for the Houston Food Bank mobile application

Design and management of a server migration program resulting in increased uptime and reduced risk of catastrophic failure

Development of a customized web application for the “Backpack Buddy” program to help at-risk youth

Development and implementation of a custom password application to improve security and simplify password management for network administrators

Analysis of the food bank’s data sources and development of tools to help improve access to data via a data warehouse

Enhancement of the food bank’s “Share Your Holidays” application enabling faster, more accurate access to program information

The Houston Food Bank Story

The Houston Food Bank, founded in 1982, is the nation’s largest food bank, serving more than 100 million meals annually to those in need.

They are an award-winning facility with a long track record of success. In 2015, the Houston Food Bank was named Food Bank of the Year, the highest honor given among the 200 Feeding America members across the U.S.

The Challenges They Were Facing
In spite of this success, the leadership of the Houston Food Bank knew they needed to improve their operations. In particular, they desired to automate and improve operations, develop tools to connect with food recipients, and, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, protect network servers from possible catastrophic failure from natural disasters. In addition, they were looking for a partner to help design and implement technology tools for a unique program to feed at-risk Houston-area school children on the weekends who would otherwise go hungry.

Finding a Solution
The food bank needed to identify a technology partner to help drive their transformation and drive their continued growth. As the first step in improving overall operations, Poetic designed and implemented a server migration project for the food bank. Hurricane Harvey was a wake-up call for the organization. There was catastrophic flooding across Houston and the food bank needed reliable servers to help the community recover as quickly as possible.

Hurricane Harvey was a wake-up call for the organization.

Poetic worked with the food bank to move all of their data into multiple servers in the cloud in multiple markets, increasing speed and optimizing data while giving the food bank a hurricane-proof solution.
As part of their digital transformation, the food bank needed to upgrade or improve a number of applications used to manage their operations. The Poetic team provided the following:

Backpack Buddy Program
One in four southeast Texas children are at risk of hunger, lacking consistent access to enough nutritious food. During weekends and holidays, many area school children go home to little or no meals. Research shows that hungry children have poorer mental and physical health, tend to miss more days of school, and suffer greater rates of behavioral disorders.
Proper nutrition is vital to their growth and development. The Houston Food Bank decided to do something about it by launching the Backpack Buddy program designed to match at-risk school children with the food they need.

Working with the food bank team, Poetic designed and implemented a web-based solution for Backpack Buddy program. Poetic developed a web application that allows schools to apply to the program, track inventory, request food, and accurately account for food distribution. The Backpack Buddy program is successfully providing at-risk students throughout the Houston area with nutritious, child-friendly food to take home over the weekend.

By teaming with Poetic on these improvements and initiatives, the food bank continues to successfully fulfill its mission statement: “Filling Pantries. Filling Lives.” We look forward to continuing our work together in service of this vital mission.