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Wired sustenance – Plugging into inventory

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — To help local groups get more food and money into their communities, the Food Bank of North Carolina is turning to technology.

The Raleigh-based Food Bank is set to launch Foodlink, a Web site designed to help 700 food pantries and other hunger-fighting groups communicate with it and one another.

Agencies can check the site for inventory at the Food Bank’s main warehouse, which serves 34 counties in central and eastern North Carolina, and eventually will be able to place orders.

Community Technology, a tech assistance group, helped develop Foodlink, plus a new Web site for the Food Bank.

The site will include organizational information; a directory of hunger-fighting groups; data on hunger, poverty and volunteerism; and opportunities to volunteer.

Foodlink will include those features, plus discussion groups and a newsletter.

The Food Bank site also will let visitors make donations online, and will link to password-protected sites for Food Bank staff and board.

The staff site will include personnel policies and forms, while the board site will feature training materials and meeting schedules and minutes.

The tech initiative is backed by $15,000 from the Tom Russell Charitable Foundation in Chicago and $25,000 from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem.

Reynolds’ support is part of a three-year $100,000 effort it has funded that teams the Food Bank with the Center for Public Service at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

They aim to build advisory councils in local communities to identify local needs and build local resources, including the development of fundraising materials for Foodlink.

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