COUNTY FOOD SECURITY TASK FORCE IMPROVING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN PANTRIES AND SERVICE PROVIDERS THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
Rolling out innovative client management software to pantries across Bergen County
Hackensack, NJ – County Executive Jim Tedesco, the Bergen County Board of Commissioners, and the County’s Department of Human Services announce that the County’s Food Security Task Force has successfully rolled out an innovative pantry management software to help manage client intake at 25 pantries across Bergen County.
The implementation of Oasis Insights followed a successful pilot period for the pantry management software during the summer of 2022. The database software platform allows pantries to digitize client management and assistance records. Created by Simon Solutions Inc., the system provides scheduling tools for appointments at pantries and operates as a network allowing pantries to communicate and work collaboratively with the ability to request needed items and notify pantries about volunteer opportunities, events, and other pantry happenings.
"Food insecurity is a symptom, not a cause. Since the Task Force was created, its mission has been to support local food pantries and their efforts - most recently enhancing their ability to serve as ambassadors to the many social services our county offers," said Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur. "By connecting so many of our vital services to each other, our food pantries are now equipped to serve as critical referral points to get to the root of food insecurity, and enable our residents to access services of which they may not have been aware."
The Food Security Task Force’s roll out of Oasis Insights will continue throughout the summer as more pantries are onboarded through this new initiative. Work is also underway to administer another key feature of the software, which has the ability to refer clients to social service agencies for additional services.
“A critical goal of the Food Security Task Force is to improve connectivity between food pantries and service providers, while also fostering a ‘no wrong door’ approach to service delivery,” said County Executive Jim Tedesco. “That way, no matter where the initial intake of a client takes place, pathways are in place to ensure those in need receive access to critical the services and programs.”
Currently, divisions within the Bergen County Department of Human Services including Senior Services, Veterans Services, Disability Services, Family Guidance, and the Office for Children have the ability to receive referrals – and have already began receiving intake information from our pantry partners. The Food Security Task Force is in the process of connecting additional agencies.
The pathways are designed to ensure ease of use for both pantry staff and services providers; following a client signing a release of information form, their name, contact info and a general description of the services they are looking for are sent to the receiving agency – who then reach out to conduct their initial intake.
“The process in Oasis for referring our pantry clients to county agencies has been incredibly seamless and simple to do,” said Lisa Bontemps Parkside Community Church Pantry Director. One of our veteran clients was contacted because of the referral we made in Oasis and told me the next week how thankful he was that someone called him to help him access much needed dental services that he didn't know he was entitled to receive. This process opens up so many more avenues for getting valuable information on resources and services to the hands of those in highest need.”
Additional Information: Upon request, the County’s Food Security Task Force can provide demonstrations of the software at a partner pantry. To facilitate, please reach out to Derek Sands at DSands@co.bergen.nj.us.
The Bergen County Food Security Task Force was formed in July of 2020 as a response to the skyrocketing need for food and services after the onset of the pandemic. The Task Force has been working to connect the food providers in Bergen County and assist them in sourcing best practices and sustainable solutions to combat the persistent levels of hunger in the community.