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Houston Food Bank receives 2021-2022 Amazon Web Services (AWS) Imagine Grant

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HOUSTON, Jan. 18, 2022 — Houston Food Bank is proud to announce it is a recipient of a 2021-2022 Amazon Web Services (AWS) Imagine Grant, which honors the vision and work of nonprofit organizations as they seek to improve their communities and the world with the help of cloud technology. 

Houston Food Bank (HFB) was recognized in the Go Further, Faster category for the launching of a cloud-native digital logistics platform to better serve vulnerable populations facing food insecurity, which was greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each winner in this category receives up to $150,000 in unrestricted funding, up to $100,000 in AWS Promotional Credit, and essential engagement with AWS technical specialists. 

Since the launch of the Imagine Grant program in 2018, AWS has awarded more than $4.5 million in cash, AWS Promotional Credit, and AWS training support to 46 nonprofit organizations. 

“AWS was incredibly inspired by the innovative thinking we saw in the applications received this year. All of the nonprofits share a commitment to solving some of our world’s biggest challenges,” said Dave Levy, Vice President of Nonprofits, Healthcare, and U.S. Government at AWS. “We look forward to collaborating with our winners to help them build and reinvent new and existing cloud-based solutions that will make a meaningful impact on communities worldwide.”

Houston Food Bank’s mission is to provide food for better lives for those experiencing food insecurity and hunger across its 18-county southeast Texas service area. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, HFB has had to alter its business model in order to safely and efficiently meet the sustained, greatly increased need of our community. One of these operational changes has been delivering food directly to clients in these 18 counties, a change brought on by several factors: clients without access to transportation, clients who are medically quarantined, clients who may have disabilities that prevent access, seniors who do not feel comfortable traveling during the pandemic, or children who are learning from home, unable to access traditional, school meals.

HFB first began delivering meals in March 2020 as part of its COVID-19 response through partnerships with volunteers, staff, corporate donors, and organizations such as CrowdSource Rescue, Task Rabbit, and Amazon. This pilot has been a success: to date, more than 2.3 million meals have been delivered to those in need.

HFB’s Home Delivery Platform operates using a cloud-native serverless architecture which includes heavy use of AWS services (AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon API Gateway, AWS Amplify, and more), with a mobile web responsive front-end written in React/Typescript. The client-side is split across four responsive web applications, each with a different function: Home Delivery management, pantry management, client orders, and driver deliveries. All of these apps utilize shared components and APIs that communicate with each other based on the different user personas. Houston Food Bank partners with Pariveda Solutions as the technology partner for the implementation of the platform. The project is a capability expansion on top of an existing manual process to deliver food to clients.

HFB applied for the Imagine Grant in order to enhance their process digitally, connect submitted orders to the client’s nearest pantry, and manage delivery operations more effectively, with an emphasis on time management and delivery logistics.

“With the success of our home delivery operations, Houston Food Bank’s goal now is to scale operations to expand home delivery for greater reach and impact,” says HFB President/CEO Brian Greene. “Additionally, with the proposed improvements, we hope to shift to utilizing volunteers for this important service instead of third-party delivery providers and to deliver food using the client choice model, where clients may select foods based on personal preference, cultural and dietary needs. We are thankful to AWS and Pariveda Solutions for providing their support and expertise as we continue to find new ways to solve the age-old problem of hunger and work towards our ultimate vision of a world that no longer needs food banks.”

For more information on the AWS Imagine Grant, visit https://aws.amazon.com/government-education/nonprofits/aws-imagine-grant-program/.

For more information on Houston Food Bank and its services, visit www.houstonfoodbank.org.

Read the full press release here.

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