MOORHEAD — Paper and pen check-in at the Dorothy Day Food Pantry will soon be no more.

Sparklight Relationship Manager James Swailes said when he and a volunteer discussed their food pantry's current process of time-consuming documentation, he decided it was time for a change.

"If we can bring the computer to them, we'd be able to speed things up and not spend hours later documenting that stuff," Swailes said.

Dorothy Day volunteers said they often spend up to five minutes getting information from clients.

Sparklight donated a Mircosoft Surface Pro, a barcode scanner and an ID card printer that would allow them to generate cards for clients.

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It's a seemingly small improvement that volunteers said comes at a perfect time.

"A lot of people are in crisis situations" said Julio Villamil, director of nutrition services at Churches United.

Between both Moorhead and West Fargo locations, the food pantries saw a record 18,555 households in need of food assistance, including more than 14,419 children served. They also served 1.6 million pounds of food.

Churches United's Brent Brandt said folks used to be able to come inside the pantry and pick out what they'd like.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, they've changed gears and utilized drive-up cart service. They're open two hours each weekday at varying times. The Moorhead location allows a person to come once a month, and the West Fargo location allows a person to visit every two weeks.

"This will allow us to probably double the amount of people we serve," Villamil said of the new technology.

He said the estimated $2,500 in equipment is a drop in the bucket because they feel the well-being of the community is priceless.

"To improve this service is really going to go a long way," he said. "When they come here and we're able to help them, it's a really good feeling for us, and you can see it on their faces."

The new system will be up and running as soon as possible.

For information on how to volunteer or receive food, visit Dorothy Day Food Pantry's website at https://churches-united.org/process.php?option=com_services&task=detail&id=18.