Case Study: Tafel e.V. – eco-Plattform

Bild von Lebensmitteln, die aus einem Smartphone herauskommen

Together towards digitization

With its twelve regional associations and over 960 food banks, Tafel Deutschland e.V. is one of Germany’s most important charitable aid organizations. Since the first food bank was founded in Berlin in 1993, more than 60,000 people, mostly volunteers, have been working to help people affected by poverty.

Inspired Consulting has been supporting Tafel Deutschland’s digitization and digital process optimization since 2019 as part of the “Tafel macht Zukunft – gemeinsam digital” project. Within the project, Inspired Consulting is responsible for developing the digital eco-Plattform. It is used to organize background processes, such as integrating manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, collecting donation data, and networking between the food banks. In the other part of the project, we are developing a mobile app to support food bank drivers on their tours.

Procedure

Over the years, the Tafel movement has continued to grow. Currently, 962 food banks are members of the umbrella organization Tafel Deutschland e.V., which operates more than 2000 distribution points* in total. As the various supporting organizations do not follow a fixed hierarchy or structure, it was necessary to define a framework for rolling out and testing the software right at the beginning of the project.

To this end, so-called pioneer food banks agreed to test the new tools and possibilities. By now, numerous food banks are using the eco-Plattform productively, enabling them to work more efficiently in their daily routine. Gradually, more and more regional associations and food banks will be connected to the digital network.

Programmierer schreibt Code

The development of the digital platform

The platform was designed and developed in collaboration with project managers from the umbrella organization. The project is being implemented in the form of event sourcing. In this way, the four developers have so far been able to implement the logic in many small, independent applications. In addition, all subsequent features can be programmed independently of each other.

A particular challenge here was managing personal user data within the framework of data protection regulations. Data management had to be separated from event sourcing in order to make the data erasable. The eco platform was developed in Elixir and runs on a Kubernetes cluster in the Google Cloud.

Mitarbeiter der Tafel lädt Waren aus Transporter
Foto: Nikolaus Urban | Tafel Deutschland e.V.

Support on the move

The development of the driver app also entailed special requirements. To ensure that drivers can always use the app offline, it was developed entirely as a progressive web app based on React and using a Phoenix backend. The user interface was deliberately kept as simple as possible to minimize the learning curve and make it as easy to use as possible.

Regarding the content, the app is limited to a route plan and the creation of digital delivery bills. The volunteer drivers of the food banks often have extensive knowledge of their catchment area, and detailed route planning seemed overkill here. The stops and donation markets of the respective tour are listed, the route can be chosen by the driver.

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