By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Food banks across the country are seeing rising demand for free groceries and one in Philadelphia now has touch screen food selections to help streamline the process and empower those in need. Instead of pre-packaged boxed food for the hungry now they can make their own selections with a digital touch screen.
Hunger relief goes high tech at the Kleinlife Center in Northeast Philadelphia.
Eva Khaitman says once you get used to the system, it’s easy and much better than the way food giveaways used to be.
People were given pre-selected items, there was no choice. “I love it very, very much,” Eva says.
Brian Gralnick with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which runs the pantry says, “There’s often a lot of shame in our culture about people needing emergency food.” He says the digital system gives people dignity. “People who are struggling economically often don’t have a lot of choice in their life so we wanted to empower them to give them choice to get what they want.”
Once the orders are placed on the touch screen, volunteers gather the items, just like in a grocery store. Much of the produce comes from local farms. Gralnick says, “We’re focused on making sure fresh produce comes from local farms.”
There’s an emphasis on healthy eating built into the system that’s based on points. “Everyone gets a certain amount of protein points, vegetable points fruit points, etc..,” Gralnick explains.
And he says the digital system, helps to better manage inventory and eliminate waste.
For Eva who struggles to make ends meet, with just her social security income, the free food helps keep her healthy. “It’s really helpful,” she says.
Most of the food at the pantry is donated from local companies. It helps to feed 2,000 people a year in the Far Northeast.