Food Distribution Application Helping Feed Millions

Colorado and Michigan are already seeing remarkable results

Every state across the country participates in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). The CSFP works to improve the health of low-income persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods. The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) distributes both food and administrative funds to each state in order to provide individual food banks with the ability to help out those in need. Within Colorado, the department responsible for managing CSFP was the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS). CDHS currently works with six individual contractors who each manage a certain amount of food bank sites within the state. In total there are just under 250 individual sites. Each month, the USDA requests multiple reports from the CDHS. These reports need to highlight the food product inventory changes for each contractor and the caseload served both at the contractor level and at the individual site level. CDHS needs all of these reports to be compiled into one master report called the 1-5-3 report and this has caused many issues for the CDHS team. Each month they would have to manage several different spreadsheets from each contractor and would have to manually compile everything together, leading to a very painful and tedious process. At BlueVector AI, we have built a solution to CDHS’s problems in the form of an AppSheet application. Our application eliminates the long, tedious process that CDHS had to endure each month and provides a streamlined and centralized solution that not only will make CDHS’s lives easier but will also improve the CSFP process as a whole, potentially leading to more meals being served to those in need.

Transforming Reports into Metrics

With our app, contractors are able to go in and enter their required inventory and caseload information all in one place, no longer needing to send each monthly report to the CDHS team individually. First, a contractor will enter the caseload (meals) served by food bank site. Once this is completed, they will confirm the total amount of caseload served across all of their sites, this number is also compared to an allocation that is assigned to each contractor. On the backend, metrics are automatically calculated showing the percent of caseload served compared to the allocation and these metrics are shown on a metric dashboard tab on the app. This dashboard tab shows the current month’s and previous month’s metrics, allowing the CDHS team to see how each contractor is doing over time. If a contractor is not serving at least 95% of their caseload, their funding will be affected. Within the app, if a contractor submits their caseload served information and it is below 95% an automated email notification will be sent to the CDHS team.

Automatically Compiling Inventory Reports

After the contractor enters their caseload information into the app, they will then need to enter in their inventory numbers by food product. As of now, there are 93 food products that the USDA sends each state to provide to the food banks. Using an editable table very similar to the look and feel of an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet, the contractor can enter in these inventory changes extremely quickly and easily. Now instead of having to email CDHS each month with this same report, every contractor’s report will be in the same place within the app, making the process much more efficient for both parties. These tables also automatically feed into three other reports that the CDHS team needs to send to the USDA: Inventory vs Caseload, Inventory by food category (i.e Fruit, Cereal, etc.), and a combined monthly report of all six contractors inventory numbers. In the past, CDHS would need to compile all three of these reports manually each month, now they don’t need to do anything at all as they all are automatically created.

Security Filters and Additional Features
While the automatic reporting is probably the most important feature of the app, it is not the only feature. Contractors can add or terminate individual food bank sites from within the app and whenever a site is added or terminated an automatic email notification will be sent to the CDHS team. These sites are also tied to a map that can be used to see the location of each site and even map out driving directions as the map is integrated with Google Maps. The app also includes a user sign on and security filters. This means that whenever someone from one contractor signs on, they can only see their own information, not other contractors. The CDHS team, however, can see everything. This allows for a smoother and more secure application.
BlueVector Background and More Information

This app was built using Google’s AppSheet. This tool is an example of a BlueVector. BlueVectors are reusable assets to accelerate Google Cloud implementations for State & Local governments. All assets listed on BlueVector are free for our customers to install and to use in perpetuity. Please visit our asset marketplace to take a look at all of the different assets we have built, including the app that you just read about. Yes, we do limit these assets to our customers. This allows us to make sure the BlueVectors are implemented and developed in a common way (and we need to pay our bills somehow).

Please follow our blog for new Blue Vector listings and other exciting updates!