The River Bend Food Bank announced Thursday its largest-ever donation: a $1.3 million grant from the John Deere Foundation, to be distributed over three years.
In addition to purchasing new equipment, the food bank will use the money to add a Data Systems Coordinator to its staff, who will use a computerized client tracking system to collect and analyze data about everyone who uses the group's services.
"For all of our history, we have tracked our progress through output," said River Bend Foodbank President and CEO Mike Miller. "We know how many meals we're distributing. But we can't tell you how long people are coming to food pantries, and our goal is to learn about what we can do to help those people today, but eventually stabilize their lives and get out of having to come back in some future time."
Miller says the data gathered will include not just how many times a person collects food, but also what other interventions they receive from the foodbank, such as health screening and financial counseling.