Brooklyn food pantry goes digital

July 16, 2008 4:16:06 PM PDT
A food pantry in Brooklyn is using a high-tech digital screen to help shoppers select their foods.St. John's Bread and Life in Bedford-Stuyvesant isn't a supermarket, it's a soup kitchen. It's the place where Darlene Tanner does her grocery shopping.

With the swipe of a card, she begins to shop via a computer. Her order is filled in the food pantry in the back. The system cost nearly $75,000 and was paid for through donations. It is believed to be the first of its kind in America.

Sister Madeline Kavanagh at first thought a computerized pantry would be a challenge. But she quickly became a convert and thinks it will empower clients because it allows them to choose what they want to eat.

The system also encourages healthy eating. Each month, a client gets 400 points worth of food. The more unhealthy an item, the more points deducted. And finally, there's less waste, since clients are ordering food they like to eat and aren't just receiving a bag of items that are in stock.

It's a virtual shopping experience that can do some real good.

"I love it," Tanner said. "It gives you an opportunity to pick exactly what you need, because of lot of times you go to a pantry and they give you things you don't eat or you really don't need or don't like."

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg.