Long Lines at the Food Bank? Now There’s an App for That.
Earlier this year, New York City began its pilot of Plentiful, the first-ever mobile application for food pantry registration and check-in.
One in six New Yorkers skip meals to save money. For people like Darryl, a father of four who struggles to provide for his family while fighting kidney cancer, the neighborhood food pantry is “a real help,” and not just for nutrition. “They keep you in good spirits around here,” he says. “It’s a place of hospitality and friendship.”
And now, a new app called Plentiful is rolling out across NYC. It promises faster service for the more than 1.5 million people like Darryl who depend on charitable food in the city of New York. In its wake, it also promises to catalyze a shift in how people perceive and access vital social services.
In just about every pantry, there is a small group of people that show up before dawn and wait several hours before the first service actually happens. For those people, it’s the potential to save three or four hours per week or per visit.
-Bob Shaver, Redstone Associate Principal via Fast Company
Earlier this year, New York City began its pilot of Plentiful, the first-ever mobile application for food pantry registration and check-in. A product of the New York City Food Assistance Collaborative, the app is simple to use, and free. Think of it as “OpenTable” for charitable food. It lets clients make reservations at their favorite pantry right from their phone – even a flip-phone – and helps pantries digitally manage their reservations and communicate directly with their clients.
Since launching, 140 pantries are registered with Plentiful and more than 120,000 unique pantry trips have been logged through the app. Already, it has provided the Collaborative the data needed to make better operational decisions, and provided neighborhood pantries insights that help them better serve families in their communities.
With Plentiful, our clients can access the food they need with ease and dignity. The app makes it convenient to create and change appointments that fit busy family and work schedules.
-Devanie and Robert Jackson, Brooklyn Rescue Mission | Bedford-Stuyvesant
There is nothing more important than feeding your family. And whether you’re reserving a table at a fancy new restaurant, or a spot in line at your neighborhood pantry, no one should have to wait in line for hours to eat. This is what pantries want – for their clients to access emergency food with dignity. Already we’ve seen Plentiful provide it, by reducing wait times and allowing pantry directors to communicate directly with clients (in three languages, and counting!).
The hope, of course is to see innovations such as Plentiful catalyze a larger shift in how people perceive and access vital social services such as charitable food.
“If you think about the word ‘food pantry,’ the image that comes to mind is usually a group of people waiting in line out in the elements for food,” continues Bob Shaver in Fast Company. “In today’s society, with the technology that we have and the resources that we have, the Collaborative thought that was just unacceptable and wanted to do something about that.”