Surrey Food Bank Society: Client Registration Application
Since 1983, The Surrey Food Bank’s mission has been to “Help People Help Themselves” – to give people a “hand up, not a hand out”. This has been accomplished in a variety of ways but primarily by providing food hampers designed to supplement a client’s food needs. The Surrey Food Bank Society (SFB) currently distributes over 56,000 food hampers a year, more than 13,000 people each month receive food from the SFB.
SFB had been using a custom database application for client registration. Maintaining accurate and timely registration data is critical in ensuring fair distribution of limited food resources and maintaining credibility with donors, volunteers, clients, media and providers. Their old application had been a Microsoft Access 97 database housed on a server at their main site. While this application was essentially sound and provided basic functionality for client registration, it needed improvement.
Unfortunately, the demand for Surrey Food Bank services had increased, requiring remote distribution locations that were based in the community. Most of these food bank depots were located in church basements or community halls that did not have internet access. With the expansion of services to satellite depots, it had been necessary to use laptops for client registration in these other locations. Copies of the database with partial regional datasets were installed on these laptop satellite laptops but there was no mechanism for synchronizing the data on these laptops with the network server. Since the satellite depots are operated from donated space there is no provision for an integrated network. A key requirement for the Surrey Food Bank was the ability to replicate data between these physically separate locations.
With an ever-increasing demand for its services, SFB had an immediate need for upgrades to their existing client registration system in the following areas:
- Support for satellite distribution centers
- Improved ‘ease of use’ for administration services performed mainly by a staff of volunteers
- Enhanced reporting and analysis requirements
JDQ’s team of experts, guided by Principal and lead applications designer Derek Shackleford, built a new database system using Microsoft SQL Server 2005. This latest version of Microsoft’s popular application was chosen for its ability to easily replicate data from a laptop computer to a central database. As a result, multiple depot data can be synchronized to the main database ensuring a fair distribution of scarce food resources. The front-end application was developed using Microsoft Access 2003 as it was integrated easily with SQL Server 2005. It had the advantage of being easily maintained due to the large number of amateur and professional developers who are proficient with it.
Through the requirements, design, testing and deployment stages the JDQ team worked closely with the Surrey Food Bank team to ensure the finished application would supply them with the best possible solution.
This JDQ Three Spheres of Reciprocity™ project succeeded for the Surrey Food Bank Society by evolving their Client Registration Activity Program application into an accurate, complete and reliable database application that serves their 4 separate locations. The development platform and database helps SFB provide support to the community long in to the future. This project also provided an opportunity for a team of volunteer professionals to learn more by working closely with each other and the JDQ experts.
As part of JDQ’s 3Spheres™ program, all work done by JDQ and its team was delivered at no charge to the Surrey Food Bank Society. JDQ will be exploring the possibility of distributing of this robust software solution, free of charge, to the other Canadian Food Banks.
Marilyn Herrmann – Executive Director, Surrey Food Bank Society was delighted: “Thank you Derek, Brent, and the 3Spheres team! Your incredible expertise, professionalism and hard work has made a huge difference to the Surrey Food Bank. We are now able to work with our client information in a timely and accurate manner. We will never be able to thank you enough. Your contribution to our organization will never be forgotten. Thank you!”
Volunteer Team Members, Donors and Sponsors
Brent Fischbach, JDQ – Project Manager
Derek Shackleford, JDQ – Technical Architect
Ian Smith, JDQ – Developer
Johan Putter, VANTUG – Developer
Henry Woo, VANTUG – Developer
Frances Caton, Independent – Technical Writer
Su Ann Lim, Independent – Senior Advisor
Marilyn Herrmann, SFB – Executive Director
Ashley Janzen, SFB
Kevin Campbell, SFB
Tyler McAuley, SFB
Graham Jones, VANTUG
Nerds On Site – Vancouver