Feeding America today announced the receipt of a $1.9 million in-kind grant from Tableau Foundation, which will provide Tableau software licenses to all 200 food banks in the Feeding America network.
Tableau’s data analytics software lets anyone see, understand, and share their data. When using Tableau, food bankers can work with dashboards, data storyboards and maps, as well as interactive graphs and charts to help better manage their operations and ultimately close the meal gap in their community.
“Tableau will help our food banks turn spreadsheets into interactive visualizations that answer questions and inform decisions. Everyone involved in supporting their local food bank – from staff to donors, volunteers and government leaders – will be able to see and understand the data,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “Tableau will convey data regarding food, funds and the people served by each individual food bank. As a result, Tableau will help food banks take a giant step forward to creating a culture of data-driven decision making throughout the network, so that they can better serve their communities.”
The impact of the Tableau visualizations has already been felt throughout the Feeding America network. One of the first visualizations created by analysts on staff at the national office of Feeding America is the “Performance Benchmarking Dashboard”. Designed to assist food banks identify other food banks in the network that are excelling on certain key performance indicators, the Dashboard has facilitated the exchange of best practices and innovative thinking. Because Feeding America has set very aggressive goals for meal distribution in the next 10 years, such ideas are necessary to help food banks meet those goals.
In addition to the software products, Tableau will support the implementation of the Feeding America Data Fellowship program, a group of 15 analysts from both Feeding America and the network. Data Fellows will receive intensive training from Interworks, the Tableau training partner, over a twelve-month period. The Data Fellows in turn will provide training, User Group support, and capacity building services to other food banks using Tableau.
Feeding America has developed other visualizations designed for its members, which include a Retail Opportunity Map, a Distribution Compliance Planning Tool, and a Meal Gap Strategic Planning Tool. The Retail Opportunity Map helps members streamline the logistics of recovering food and grocery products from partner retail stores. The two planning tools help members target food distribution to those areas of the country where food insecurity is at high levels. One member, upon using the Meal Gap Strategic Planning tool said, “The visualization makes it easier to understand that we need very different strategies to meet the meal gap in different counties. We already knew that, but seeing the scale of difference has a bigger impact than just looking at the numbers.”
Not only will Feeding America continue to develop other visualizations for use by network food banks and the national management team, but they will also be facilitating the use of an internal secure website provided by Tableau where individual food banks can post and share their own visualizations both privately and network-wide.
“These secure websites can be used for donor and Board presentations, for example; whereas the network-wide website can be used to view and interact with "vizzes" prepared and published by Feeding America and other food banks in the network,” Aviv said. “In this way, Tableau has enabled our food bank users to become exposed to data analyses in new and creative ways,” Aviv continued.
“We again thank the Tableau Foundation for this generous gift, which greatly will help us provide more food to more people in need,” Aviv said.
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Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
The Tableau Foundation is an initiative led by the employees of Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA) that encourages the use of facts and analytical reasoning to solve the world’s problems. Tableau Foundation grants combine Tableau’s two most valuable resources – its people and its products – with financial support to nonprofits that are using data to reshape communities around the globe. Since 2014, the Tableau Foundation and Tableau employees have contributed 5,029 volunteer hours and $8.8m to 1,437 nonprofits worldwide. To learn more, please visit www.tableaufoundation.org.