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Innovative Houston Food Charity Wins Prestigious Amazon Tech Grant

One of Houston’s most beloved food charities has been recognized for its technological prowess. Houston Food Bank received the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Imagine Grant.

The endowment honors “the vision and work of nonprofit organizations as they seek to improve their communities and the world using cloud technology,” according to a press release.

Specifically, the food bank was recognized in the Going Further, Faster category for launching a cloud-native digital logistics platform to better serve vulnerable populations facing food insecurity (this insecurity was greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, notes the food bank.

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.

The challenges of COVID and the pandemic forced the food bank to get creative – and it responded. The food bank 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 was a success: to date, more than 2.3 million meals have been delivered to people in need, from food bank tickets to press kits.

Technically, the food bank’s home delivery platform operates using a cloud-native, serverless architecture that includes heavy use of AWS services (AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon API Gateway, AWS Amplify, etc.), with a responsive mobile web interface. end written in React/Typescript.

The client side is divided into four responsive web applications, each with a different function: home delivery management, pantry management, customer orders, and driver deliveries. All of these applications use shared components and APIs that communicate with each other based on different users.

Pariveda Solutions serves as a technology partner for the implementation of this platform. The project is an extension of capabilities on top of an existing manual process to deliver food to customers.

The Houston Food Bank applied for the Imagine grant to digitally improve its process, connect submitted orders to the pantry closest to the customer, and manage delivery operations more efficiently, with a focus on managing the delivery time and logistics, notes the organization in a statement.

“With the success of our home delivery operations, Houston Food Bank’s goal now is to expand operations to expand home delivery for greater reach and impact,” said President- HFB chief executive Brian Greene in a statement. “Additionally, with the proposed enhancements, we hope to move to using volunteers for this important service instead of third-party delivery providers, and to deliver food using the customer choice model, where customers can select foods according to their personal, cultural and dietary preferences. Needs. We are grateful to AWS and Pariveda Solutions for 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 banks. food.