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Virtual consultant – Food Bank is first client

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Two Triangle technology veterans are forming a new initiative to deliver tech assistance to nonprofits in the region – and are working with the Food Bank of North Carolina for their inaugural project.

Community Technology is the brainchild of mechanical engineer David Lindquist, a former manager in the switching group at Nortel, and Craig Herb, a former sales and marketing manager in Raleigh for Microsoft.

Wanting to work with nonprofits, the two looked at tech assistance groups in other communities and decided their new organization could limit its overhead and fees by depending heavily on volunteers working in the tech industry.

Lindquist’s wife, Dana Wynne Lindquist, is chair of the Food Bank’s board of directors, and the two partners decided to test their business model by volunteering their services to the Food Bank.

The Food Bank is in the midst of revamping its use of computers and the Web to serve its expanding operation, which includes new warehouses in Durham and Greenville, and a Greenville-based mobile food pantry that serves 10 counties.

In the year ended June 30, 2001, the Food Bank expects to deliver 16 million to 18 million pounds of food in the 34 counties it serves, up from 7.5 million pounds two years ago.

It also wants to improve communications internally and externally, both with industry donors and with America’s Second Harvest, the national network of food banks.

Jane Cox, the Food Bank’s executive director, says new tech initiatives will be part of a larger strategy aimed at handling increased demand for food and better serving rural areas.

Needs include more trucks, forklifts and drivers, as well as better communications in such areas as inventory control.

“We need to find more food,” she said. “And we need to find more financial resources to distribute that food to the people in need.”

Microsoft has agreed to donate software and consulting services to the Food Bank through the Triangle’s new Community Technology initiative.

Initially, Lindquist and Herb plan to help the Food Bank revamp its Web site and its use of email, the Internet and desk-top tools such as word-processing and spread sheets.

The two entrepreneurs hope this fall to begin providing tech assistance to other nonprofits in the region.

Meanwhile, the Food Bank is recruiting corporate support. About 30 corporate executive attended a recent breakfast hosted by Charles Sanders, former CEO of Glaxo Wellcome, and by John Atkins of architecture firm O’Brien/Atkins Associates, to learn more about the Food Bank.

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