Houston Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank (HFB) is the largest source of food for hunger relief charities in 18 southeast Texas counties. The Lightning Data Masher helped them present business critical information through SharePoint by its ability to synchronize between SharePoint Lists and databases, saving them countless hours of gathering data producing reports in Excel.”

The Houston Food Bank is the largest source of food for hunger relief charities in 18 southeast Texas counties. A network of nearly 500 food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centres and other agencies, feeding a total of 137,000 people each week, provides more than 65 million pounds of food and prepared meals annually.

The Houston Food Bank, founded in 1982, is a certified member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network. The organization plans to grow to an annual distribution of 120 million pounds of food by 2018.

SharePoint has been used by The Houston Foodbank as their Intranet for a number of years to encourage collaboration and communication across projects and documents. They were looking for a way to present business critical data to their users through the SharePoint platform.

Issac Bertrand, Systems Analyst for Houston Food Bank commented… “We have multiple applications we use on a day to day basis that contain business critical data. We wanted to find a way to get all of the different pieces of information into SharePoint so we could have a simple way viewing the data without having to dig through cryptic reports. Also, the end result of this would save man power gathering the data and exporting it into Excel or other office utilities.”

While SharePoint does solve a number of issues in reporting data out of the box, Houston Food Bank wanted to get raw database information into a SharePoint list for a seamless presentation. Isaac added: “We wanted something that would look like a SharePoint list, act like a SharePoint list, and be as user friendly as a SharePoint list.”

The Lightning Data Masher was deployed within HFB to import their business critical data from external applications into SharePoint Lists via a timer job. The Data Masher has completely changed how users can view and work with their data.

“We are able to use this tool to create dynamic list which are almost maintenance free to the business user through SharePoint. With the data export to SharePoint, users have the ability go in and create their own specific views which best suits their needs.” said Issac.

The Lightning Data Masher has opened up new possibilities for how The Houston Food Bank can use SharePoint. Isaac commented: “We now have a way to get data into SharePoint without going through months of custom code writing and testing. With the data in SharePoint, we can use the customization feature with SharePoint to effectively create new ways of presenting data without worry of affecting the data itself.”