What we did
Delivering support with weekend meals
More than 22 million children across the U.S. must rely on free or reduced-price school lunches to receive proper nutrition. Yet when weekends come and school doors close, many of these children don’t have access to the appropriate amount of food. In 2013, Filling in the Blanks was created to support them.
Fueled by volunteers, the Connecticut-based organization combats childhood hunger by delivering weekend meals to children every Friday. Filling in the Blanks provides food bags—packed with two breakfasts, two lunches, and four snacks each—to more than 100 schools and community centers across Connecticut and New York so children no longer go home to empty pantries.
With 131,000 children living in food-insecure households in Connecticut alone, the work that Filling in the Blanks does is both crucial and immense. As the organization continues to expand to feed more hungry children, it needed technology and operations that were adaptable, too.
“We believe if kids have food, they are able to focus, learn, and have more success in their lives,” Shawnee Knight, cofounder of Filling in the Blanks, explains. “But as we started to grow, we didn’t have a system that was scalable. We needed a better way to track and manage our delivery data.”
Slalom saw a hole and a need in what we were doing and jumped right in. It made it so easy for our people.
Accurate data, amplified impact
Before engaging Slalom, team members often served multiple roles within the organization and manually managed intensive processes—including its 4,300 weekly deliveries—using spreadsheets. To simplify operations and improve data quality, Filling in the Blanks decided on a Salesforce solution, but needed a Salesforce consulting partner to implement the technology.
When the Slalom team volunteered at a Filling in the Blanks event, introductions were made and we hit the ground running. Together with leadership, we examined the organization’s processes and began to uncover opportunities for efficiency.
“Slalom saw a hole and a need in what we were doing and jumped right in,” says Tina Kramer, cofounder of Filling in the Blanks. “It made it so easy for our people.”
In just six weeks, our team used the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack to deliver an automated system that managed delivery tracking, reduced manual tasks, and reported on essential metrics, including the number of children, schools, and districts fed, along with key demographics.
We also discovered that Filling in the Blanks was using 150+ registration forms for each school served, which led to problems with data quality and collection. We consolidated these into one simple form that integrated directly with Salesforce, which reduces lag time and burdens on the families signing up for meals. Google APIs were also incorporated into the form for data validation and consistency.
“We had a unique opportunity to help Filling in the Blanks by doing what we do best—transforming their business operations,” says Casey Sung, director at Slalom. “Initially, we came in to do a Salesforce enablement, but we quickly realized the need for more. We expanded our scope without expanding the timeline and delivered much more impact than we anticipated.”
From Salesforce partner to community ally
Beyond standard data collection, with Salesforce’s surveying capabilities, Filling in the Blanks can now access richer and deeper analytics, too. Not only does this help their grant writer substantiate grants, but the organization is now launching surveys to improve the quality of deliveries and make sure food is culturally appropriate, leading to more inclusivity.
To facilitate the adoption of these new processes, tools, and technology, Slalom also provided change management and strategy consulting, supplying Filling in the Blanks with training videos and new internal procedures. With a best-practice operating model in place, the organization is now set up for future success when the time comes to incorporate inventory, donor, and volunteer management into Salesforce as well.
Filling in the Blanks aspires to expand nationally, and this project laid the groundwork for the organization to further its reach and feed more children at scale. Since enablement, Filling in the Blanks has already added over 600 children to its weekly deliveries—and that number is expected to multiply.
“Our team made new personal connections and smiled throughout the engagement, knowing that they were building a better future,” Sung continues. “We brought a lot of heart, energy, and passion to this project.”
In fact, even though the project has ended, this passion never stopped. Slalom continues to support Filling in the Blanks’ efforts within the community whenever possible. From hosting a food drive that raised over $2,400 to regularly volunteering and packing thousands of weekend food bags, our ongoing commitment to Filling in the Blanks and its mission truly captures the essence of fiercely human consulting.