Volunteers at Second Helpings in Beaufort County, SC pick up food donations from grocery stores across the region, and then redistribute the donations to food banks, churches, and soup kitchens to feed the hungry. The organization rescues nearly 3 million pounds of food per year in this way.

Food pick-up and drop-off weights were once recorded on the trucks by paper and pencil, and then they were hand-entered into spreadsheets and tabulated at the Second Helpings office.

In 2012, two student teams at Bowdoin College developed software called Homeplate. The first 3-student team built a database server and user interface to schedule the trucks and track food donations from local stores and deliveries to food distribution centers. Second, a single student developed a mobile app used by volunteers on the trucks to instantly record the weights of food donated and delivered, and upload these data to the Homeplate server at the end of the day.

Homeplate has thus replaced the clipboards and pencils when it was installed in 2012.  As a byproduct, Homeplate also provides accurate and timely reports for donating stores and other supporting agencies.

In 2021, NPFI made a major upgrade to Homeplate that removed its dependency on the mobile app.  Now all the trucks are equipped with Wi-fi, so that weights can be directly entered from the truck to the server, without the need for uploading that data at the end of the day.  This upgrade saves volunteer time and developer tedium, since the mobile app is no longer needed.

The Development Triad

  • The Client: Second Helpings, Inc., Hilton Head, SC required on-line food pickup and delivery record keeping and scheduling to replace its manual paper-based system.
  • The Student Team: Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine developed the Homeplate application with 3 computer science students and an instructor during the spring and summer 2012 semesters.
  • The Software Professional: From 2012 to 2021, Progressive Technology and NPFI provided technical support for  Homeplate, and Godaddy provided hosting support.  Since 2021, Homeplate has been hosted and supported technically by Course Vector LLC.

Instructor/Developer Links: