The second-largest food bank in the United States was born in the very humblest of circumstances. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey began when its founder, President and CEO Kathleen DiChiara, began distributing groceries out of the trunk of her car in 1975. The FoodBank became part of the Archdiocese of Newark that year and by the end of its first year had distributed nearly 2 million pounds of groceries.
Today, the FoodBank operates from a 280,000 square-foot facility in Hillside, New Jersey. It also operates a 30,000 square-foot warehouse in Egg Harbor Township near Atlantic City. In 2010 the FoodBank distributed nearly 40 million pounds of food and groceries, ultimately serving 1,500 non-profit programs including 436 programs served by its Partner Distribution Organizations. Through their combined efforts, they assist 900,000 low-income people in 18 of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
“We share a common mission with other food banks,” said Chief Financial Officer Bob Barry. “What makes the Community FoodBank of New Jersey truly unique is how much we have grown. In addition, as a non-profit, we operate very efficiently. The FoodBank’s administrative costs are less than four percent of our total expenses. This efficiency allows us to be more effective in fulfilling our mission.” A desire to “go green” and achieve even greater efficiency ultimately led the FoodBank to GlobalSearch.
“I wanted to take us paperless because there are so many efficiencies that flow from reducing dependence on paper,” Barry explained. “By using GlobalSearch to eliminate paper records, we are able to operate more efficiently and we no longer have to worry about misplacing critical documents or losing them during a fire or natural disaster. That was a real comfort during Tropical Storm Irene, which deposited five feet of water on our doorstep. In addition, we found out quickly that GlobalSearch could save us a great deal of time during audits.”
Barry explained that GlobalSearch integrated seamlessly with the FoodBank’s Navision Accounting software package and that the solution’s ease of use and value were important selling points. “I challenged my IT Department to find an Electronic Content Management system that would allow us to go paperless with our vendor invoices,” he said. “Following a short demonstration of what GlobalSearch could do, we decided to purchase it on the spot. The actual installation took only a day or two.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey uses GlobalSearch to quickly process and safely store vendor invoices of every kind. “Using GlobalSearch could not be simpler,” said Senior Accountant Kristi Savell. After a check run has been finalized and the checks have been signed, copies of the checks are scanned into GlobalSearch along with the related invoices and other documents using a dedicated scanner. The documents are then indexed by check number and other criteria, making them easy to access when needed.
Because they now reside securely in GlobalSearch, the paper documents can be discarded. “We no longer have to maintain copies of those paper documents and we don’t have to worry about how or when to eventually destroy them,” Savell said. “Before GlobalSearch, those documents had to be filed manually and took up a lot of storage space. An annual set of invoices consumed a five-drawer lateral file cabinet. After a period of time, the files had to be transferred into six or seven file storage boxes for long-term storage. Thanks to GlobalSearch, we no longer need to do that.”
“One of the ways in which GlobalSearch has really proven its worth is during audits,” Barry said. “GlobalSearch’s design is very intuitive and so easy to use that outside auditors can use it with very little training,” he explained. “We just show the auditors how to use it and they can navigate to the documents they need. This means that we don’t need to take the time to find and retrieve documents for them. And because they are indexed by key criteria and can’t be misfiled, we don’t have to struggle to locate misplaced documents.”
“Using GlobalSearch during audits has resulted in a huge time savings for us,” Barry continued. “The FoodBank gets an annual fiscal audit and is also subjected to state audits for a variety of programs so we must undergo three or more audits annually. In addition to various other efficiencies, I estimate that using GlobalSearch saves our Accounting Department employees at least two full weeks each year.”
Within only six months of implementing the solution, GlobalSearch has proven so effective in managing invoices for the Accounting Department that the FoodBank plans to use the solution to manage the voluminous files for its Partner Distribution Organizations and vital human resources records.
“I would definitely recommend GlobalSearch,” Savell concluded. “Vendor invoices can no longer be misfiled and we don’t have to leave our desks to find them anymore so GlobalSearch saves us a great deal of time.” Barry agreed. “GlobalSearch has helped the Community FoodBank of New Jersey to operate more economically and efficiently. It also gives us tremendous peace of mind knowing that important documents are backed up securely.
Auditors absolutely love GlobalSearch and I have heard nothing but great things about it from my staff. GlobalSearch has worked out extremely well for us.”