It’s a huge responsibility to help feed those in need in Waterloo Region.
Last year, approximately four million pounds of food was distributed by the Food Bank of Waterloo Region through the Community Food Association Network, which consists of 100 community programs.
But even the Food Bank can use a little assistance when it comes to ensuring the needs of these programs and their participants are met.
Thanks to Capacity Canada’s new TechMatch program and the efforts of a team of volunteers from Manulife, the Food Bank now has the foundation to improve its day-to-day operations.
“They wanted a full evaluation of the current state of the systems they currently leverage and were open to new systems and technology solutions,” said Capacity Canada’s Bob Nieboer, a key facilitator of the program.
TechMatch connects technology professionals with non-profit organizations in a co-operative setting to develop new digital strategies.
This inaugural TechMatch team, which included Manulife and Food Bank staff members, met with Capacity Canada facilitators once a week over the course of four months. The program wrapped up in early January when a final report was presented to the Food Bank
“The Food Bank’s biggest issue was that they did not like their inventory system,” said Markus Bogad, business consultant with Manulife and a TechMatch volunteer. “They had been promised things by the vendor that the Food Bank didn’t get.”
Bogad also said the hand-held scanners used by some Food Bank volunteers and staff to tally donations also were causing issues.
“Sometimes they didn’t always work, and it ended up creating a lot more manual work,” he said.
To find potential digital strategies, TechMatch team members joined forces and used a variety of tools and exercises, such as risk assessment, business planning and design thinking.
Article text Bogad said he didn’t find the process difficult since the team wasn’t being asked to deliver solutions but come up with strategies.
“It’s not like we were locked in a room for five days. The way the process worked it kind of lead you to the next step,” he said.
Jerry Huiskamp, information technology developer at Manulife, said he had no preconceived notion on how the process would work when he signed on as a volunteer.
“I was open to where it would lead,” he said.
Huiskamp said he selectively concentrated on the areas of disaster relief and IT governance, which he believed served the overall process well.
Nieboer said he was very pleased by the outcome of the process. “The final strategic document was professional and thorough,” he said.
Bogad said he welcomed the chance to be part of this inaugural initiative.
“It seemed like something a little bit different than I do on a dayto-day basis,” he said. “It was a great way to get out of my comfort zone.”
Fellow team member Monique Brideau, lead technical program manager at Manulife, agreed.
“It gave me a great opportunity to give back to a non-profit,” she said. “It was also nice to be able to lend my skills to something that wasn’t so corporate.”
For Husikamp, being part of TechMatch has helped lay the groundwork for more volunteer opportunities, perhaps serving on a board of directors for a non-profit.
“I’m approaching retirement, so I’m looking for avenues to give back,” he said. “So, when TechMatch came up it was a natural fit for me since I’ve worked in IT all my life.”
Husikamp said he also enjoyed the chance to work with fellow Manulife employees. Brideau feels the same.
“Our paths never really would have crossed so it was a great opportunity to network,” she said.
Overall, Husikamp said he was pleased by the experience.
“I’m satisfied by the reaction we got. The Food Bank seemed to be impressed with a lot of what we did,” he said.
For more information on TechMatch, contact Bob Nieboer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 519-513-2606, ext 3