During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, SEMO Food Bank saw an increase in people who had never used their services before seeking support. This influx highlighted a need to make their website more accessible to help those in need find mobile food pantries. Funded by a grant from Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks that supports local food banks with national fundraising efforts, they selected Rooted Web, a full-service digital agency in Cape Girardeau, to make the necessary updates.
“We’re a charity; almost 97 percent of each dollar we bring in goes into programs. We are always reluctant to use resources for something other than providing food. This grant provided an opportunity to make much needed improvements that will also help us achieve our mission,” says Lisa Church, Chief Advancement Officer at SEMO Food Bank. “Finding a local website partner for this project was important to us because we felt like they would have a vested interest in us as well. I really liked what I saw from Rooted Web.”
The previous site was not mobile-friendly, which made it very hard for people navigating the site on a mobile device to find local pantries, upcoming distribution points or even how to get assistance. The improved pantry locator and mobile food pantry integration systems help those looking for assistance or to donate find the information they need. Integrations with Google Maps provides accurate driving directions to each location.
“The majority of people we serve live in rural areas and may not have access to a computer or have reliable internet in their homes, but they do usually have some sort of internet-enabled phone,” says Church. “Their phone is how they search for our mobile pantries or pantry locations. Without that functionality on our website, they may not be able to find assistance.”
”Custom building the pantry locator for SEMO Food Bank was a key part of this project,” says Matt McKenzie, web design and UX manager at Rooted Web. “The pantry locator is more than just a map; it is a tangible way for those looking for help to find it.”
One goal with the redesign was building a site that could grow with the organization. “It will be a long time before we get to do something like this again, so we put a lot of thought into the flexibility and long-term adaptability of the new website,” says Church.
Analytics on the site will allow SEMO Food Bank to monitor traffic, top pages, length of time visitors spend on the site and more, to gauge needs and to determine where to invest more resources or efforts.
“SEMO Food Bank really has two very different audiences with different needs; how to get help and how to give help. We kept that in mind as we created the new website,” says McKenzie.
Southeast Missouri Food Bank serves 16 counties in Southeast Missouri—Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Dunklin, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Perry, Reynolds, Ripley, Scott, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard and Wayne. With 142 different food pantries, it is important that those who need assistance can find a location close to them. The updated website functionality had to be easy to use and current on mobile website trends. To learn more about Southeast Missouri Food Bank, visit semofoodbank.org.
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