Published On: 07/10/2023Categories: Agbiosciences, AgriNovus News, AgTech, Entrepreneurs

IBJ: Gleaners Looking to Tech to Help Feed State’s Needs

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Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana’s core mission of providing food relief has become a lot more complicated over the past few years, thanks to the pandemic, and the organization is looking to technology to help it navigate its “new normal.”

About 63% of Gleaners’ food is distributed through partner agencies. But for food the organization distributes to people directly (not including mobile pantries), it is now serving four times the number of households that it was in January 2020—about 5,000 a week instead of 1,200. And the organization now offers that food through a combination of drive-through, pickup and home-delivery options rather than its previous model, where people visited Gleaners’ Waldemere Avenue pantry to select what they wanted.

Now, faced with the reality that these post-pandemic shifts are likely here to say, Gleaners sees technology as its path forward.

“One of the things that is a lot more in the front of our minds now than it was pre-pandemic is, we have to do some things differently to get food to people,” said Gleaners Chief Operating Officer Joe Slater. “So we need a new technology engine to power those programs, which are designed to get the food to people versus just rely on the fact that the people can get to the food.”

Gleaners is analyzing its options and hopes to settle on a new technology platform by Oct. 1, Slater said. Including time for beta testing, the goal is to have the technology up and running about a year from now.

Gleaners isn’t the only organization thinking this way.

Compared with a few years ago, “food banks are more aware that technology could help them do more,” said Geoff Zentz, senior director of innovation at Indianapolis-based AgriNovus Indiana, which promotes the state’s agbioscience sector.

Read full story here.