food pantries

SVdP Cleveland Launches New Software

SVdP Cleveland Launches New Software 1266 914 SVDP USA

In an effort to facilitate the ability for its English and non-English-speaking clients to order and receive food, SVdP Cleveland has partnered with Hunger Network to implement a new software at its Brookside Hunger Center. Brookside gives individuals the option to select foods, creating a “shopping” experience. SmartChoice™, a web-based digital ordering system, allows neighbors in need to order food in their own language and customize their selections based upon individual dietary requirements.

Those visiting the center are able to select exactly what they prefer from SVDP’s menu of available food items by using a touchscreen. They will also soon be able to order at home and schedule a pick up. Designed to improve the overall food pantry experience, the software provides SVdP Cleveland with the ability to serve food insecure families who are unable to visit Brookside during its hours of operation.

This new system has many benefits, both for clients and the organization, according to Gary A. Sole, CEO of SVdP Cleveland. “For example, it promotes healthier eating and less waste, as people only order what they intend to consume,” he explained. “Because it reduces spoilage and offers choice with reduced space requirements, it maximizes our pantry’s resources and even streamlines our inventory management.”

SVdP Cleveland’s purchase of the software was made possible in part with funding from Community West Foundation, Sole added.

SVdP Cleveland collaborated with its partner agency, Hunger Network, to implement the software more efficiently. Hunger Network rolled out the service in 2022 at its own newly-opened pantry located in Cleveland’s MidTown Corridor. “This collaboration enables us to benefit from Hunger Network’s experience to ensure a seamless integration for our organization,” Sole explained.

The system has proven to be extremely successful at Hunger Network, said Julie M. Johnson, CEO.  “We fell in love with the software once we started looking into it because it provided customers with a dignified experience and allowed us to encourage them to learn about and select healthier food options.”

In operation since the mid-1960s, Brookside Hunger Center serves individuals and families within and surrounding Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton and Brooklyn Centre neighborhoods. It is one of seven main food pantries operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul that provide emergency food supplies (which include shelf staples, protein-rich meats, dairy and nutritious produce), hot meals, and more to food-insecure individuals and families throughout Northeast Ohio.

06-17-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

06-17-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 410 382 SVDP USA

Even fairly good students can end up after school in detention. If my middle school had a three-strikes program, I may not have survived eighth grade. To wit:

  • I was sitting in the lunchroom with my buddies. One of them, I noticed, was walking behind us and flicking our ears. When I thought he reached me, without turning I swept my arm behind me to smack him. Then I saw the faces of all my friends turning red. I had unknowingly just slapped the school’s most attractive young teacher squarely on her bottom.
  • Before English class began, my best friend suggested that a pro wrestling headlock he saw the night prior was a great move. I disagreed. We agreed to a test; he would get me in a headlock and I would try to escape it. He grabbed me, and I proceeded to lift his entire body up to my shoulders. At that point the teacher walked in, and assumed idiot-on-idiot violence. Apparently she was not a wrasslin’ fan.
  • We were about to begin a new unit on drug abuse in our Social Studies class. While I was visiting someone in the hospital, I asked a nurse if I could take home a clean, capped hypodermic needle to use as a teaching prop. She thought it was a great idea. Upon seeing the unauthorized needle in class, however, my teacher disagreed. So did my principal.

Looking back about 50years later — hopefully after the statute of limitations — I maintain my innocence. I also take from these experiences a recognition of how young people make careless mistakes, bad choices, act from ignorance, or just don’t quite have enough of the common sense we older folks take for granted.  My rather trivial transgressions resulted in correspondingly minor punishments. Others who made bad choices on a larger scale, or who were simply the unlucky ones who got caught, may have spent time not in detention but in jail. They may have missed college, job or other life opportunities.  But for one or two bad days, or bad decisions, their lives could have been completely different.

This is why the listening part of how we serve is so important. Especially in our Home Visits, but also while chatting at a food pantry or when otherwise helping someone with their issues, Vincentians seek to understand first, and then to act. Our services are not cookie-cutter because the people who need them don’t come from the same mold, either. Each person and family got to where they are by a different, sometimes unbelievable path. This path may have been a winding road, full of potholes. Perhaps they had to walk it step by painful step, much less drive it. Often too, they carried someone else and their burdens along the way.

The Society’s national Mission statement includes the phrase “through personal relationships with and service to people in need” and recognizes that we are a relational, not transactional, group. We see the service we provide simply by letting someone in need unload their situation and problems. In some cases, we are the only person who took the time to listen at all.

This year especially, our friends in need have stories to tell!  Are we actively listening to them?

Looking back on my middle-school situations, I realize that the repercussions of my actions could have been much worse but for listening teachers and administrators. Their desire to understand first before responding to me provided great examples to carry on in my Vincentian work. With some thought, you may have a similar role model.

Ms. Fascina, if you’re out there, thanks to you especially for listening. I really didn’t know you were walking behind me!

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

St. Anthony Messenger cover story

Society of St. Vincent de Paul featured in St. Anthony Messenger Magazine

Society of St. Vincent de Paul featured in St. Anthony Messenger Magazine 360 480 SVDP USA

St. Anthony Messenger magazine, an American Catholic family magazine published by the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati, has selected the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as its March cover story.

The wide-ranging, multipage article touches upon several key aspects of the Society’s work in serving neighbors in need, including our food pantries, thrift stores, emergency financial assistance, and the Getting Ahead program. The print copy also includes many photos of Vincentian volunteers serving their communities, including several images of the Society’s international efforts.

While the article tells the Society’s story through the lens of the Bloomington, Indiana and Dayton, Ohio Conferences, programs from other Conferences across the country are also highlighted, including Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, North Texas, Chicago, and Cincinnati.

With a monthly circulation of more than 50,000, St. Anthony Messenger’s story provides the Society with a unique opportunity to reach new volunteers and donors. We hope you’ll read it and share it with your parish and community.

To read the article online, visit the St. Anthony Messenger website. To inquire about a hard copy of the issue, you can visit their subscription page.

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