Ending Hunger in Central Texas through Data Insights


Dave Ronn brings pragmatic software development skills, a warm personality and a passion for connecting with people on a deeper level to his role as a Client Insights Coordinator at the Central Texas Food Bank. We're proud to celebrate him as our Team Member of the Month.

At 12 years old, Dave first volunteered with his family at the Food Bank's old South Congress location, finding the experience rewarding and impactful. "I loved that you were doing something helpful, but you also got to talk to people," he shares. Dave rekindled his connection with the Food Bank during the pandemic, drawn by the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution during challenging times and escape isolation to nurture his extroversion. Fortuitously, the same work he was supporting as a volunteer, collecting demographic information from neighbors, now directly impacts his role and plays a significant part in the Food Bank's data-driven initiatives.

Dave's responsibilities revolve around managing service insights data, mainly supporting our over 250 partners' transition from manual paper to electronic data collection methods. Dave regularly offers training on Oasis, our client intake system, and brings his favorite improvisation principles to the classes to encourage interaction in what would otherwise be a straightforward technical session. After a brief demonstration, Dave will ask for a volunteer to lead the entire group using the Oasis tool. He enjoys seeing the group make up fake and often silly client data – such as an address at the white house.  Partners have expressed high praises for Dave's assistance, often mentioning his delightful nature. "He is patient and thorough in teaching internal staff and external partners about Oasis and is always available to answer any questions. Dave shows compassion to anyone he communicates with and lends his ear to all," says Andrew, one of Dave's coworkers.

Dave takes pride in helping partners feel comfortable using our data systems, regardless of the digital divide. The data he assists our partners and team collect helps us answer questions such as: How far, on average, do clients have to drive to access food? Are there more resources neighbors might need? And, are we reaching the population that we intend to?

In return for collecting and sharing data, our partners receive customized reports for their area that identify gaps in service to our food-insecure neighbors. For example, if there is a pattern showing that neighbors are driving over 20 miles to access food, we can implement a new food access site in a more convenient area. Or, if the demographics show a larger population of seniors or veterans in a specific area, partners can tailor their resources to those needs. "It's a cool blend of very practical work in the pursuit of collecting data for higher-level strategies," Dave shares. 

Dave enjoys meeting with nationwide food bank counterparts to learn from their experiences in gathering client insights data. Monthly, he has the chance to chat with colleagues in the Feeding America network about innovations and challenges within this food bank specialization. Dave shares pride for his team and their impact on our mission to end hunger. "The research team at the Food Bank is one of the best in the country. We have not just the smartest people but also the staffing levels and tools, such as our data warehouse." The Central Texas Food Bank even offers technology grants to partners to help them purchase laptops, tablets and barcode scanners to streamline digital intake efforts.

One of the benefits of working alongside Dave is his genuine enthusiasm for creating community. He recently organized monthly Almuerzos de Español (Spanish Lunches), where employees gather to practice their Spanish skills and find more confidence in conversing with Spanish-speaking neighbors. Beyond his personal enjoyment of the language, these informal sessions aim to foster connections among team members.

Dave's approach to his work reflects a blend of technical expertise and a personal touch. He shares, "At the end of the day, it's all just people working with people. So that's what I'm most proud of, the little moments and the little joys we have together." Dave is a true leader in bridging the gap between heart and data to create a more connected and hunger-free Central Texas.