For Immediate Release
Lutheran Social Services of Nevada Launches Digital Food Pantry
Online system reduces wait time for clients, improves food inventory control
LAS VEGAS, NV – September 28, 2016 – Lutheran Social Services of Nevada is making it easier for families to access nutritious food with the launch of DigiMart, an online food pantry system that is a first in Las Vegas.
“Nowadays, everything is online, and now LSSN’s food pantry is online, too,” said Armena Mnatsakanyan, executive director of LSSN.
DigiMart is a logical next step for LSSN’s client-choice, supermarket-style food pantry. Clients who now “shop” the pantry aisles with carts will be able to log into the food database on desktop kiosks at LSSN or from home computers. Monitors will display pictures of food items available, and a click of the mouse will put a client’s item – say a can of reduced-sodium chicken noodle soup – into his or her digital cart. Once the order is complete, a receipt is sent to a computer in the pantry, staff and volunteers will bag or box the food and have it ready for the client to pick up.
“It’s that easy, and it will save our clients the time they now spend waiting for their turn to shop in the pantry,” Mnatsakanyan said. “This is especially important for our clients who are seniors, who work or have child-care responsibilities.”
Clients of the DigiMart system will be assigned points that will be used like money to “purchase” food. A key component of DigiMart is that LSSN will “price” food that has higher nutritional value for fewer points than items that are less nutritious. For example, that can of reduced-sodium chicken noodle soup might be just 2 points, but a can of regular chicken noodle soup with a much higher salt content might be 5 points. DigiMart also will provide fresh produce in bulk to promote healthy food choices. Fresh items will always carry a food value of 1.
“We can encourage our clients to choose more nutritious food because their points will go farther if they do,” Mnatsakanyan said.
LSSN will not charge clients to use the DigiMart program, and points are replenished every 30 days. Instead of being limited to visiting the pantry once a month, clients can get food during any of the pantry’s open hours as long as they have points in their accounts.
DigiMart is based on software developed and licensed by Nexus Financial Services in New York City for St. John’s Bread & Life, a social services agency in Brooklyn. LSSN received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USAA Savings Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco to begin DigiMart. Funding allowed LSSN to purchase the software from Nexus, which continues to provide technical assistance.
About Lutheran Social Services of Nevada
LSSN is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been providing compassionate human services to low-income individuals, families with and without children, and seniors in urban-core areas of Southern Nevada for the past 20 years. Our mission is to express the love of Christ by serving and caring for people in need. Although Lutheran-based, LSSN is open and inclusive in the services we offer. We have an extensive non-discrimination policy, which applies to our employment policies and service delivery. LSSN is accredited by the United Way of Southern Nevada and by the State of Nevada.
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