Nicolet students upgrade network at food pantry
The non-profit Rhinelander Area Food Pantry experienced a role-reversal this week as Nicolet students donated their time and effort to improve the new Food Pantry building. Of course, the Pantry couldn’t help but give back by having a luncheon to celebrate all the volunteers they work with, including the hard-working Nicolet IT students that sweated over the new technology infrastructure of the Pantry operation.
In addition to new software that coordinates with the USDA reporting system, the upgrades include hardware for network stations throughout the building.
“What we’re going to do is automate [the system]. Network connections where we send food out and bring the food in, so we can weigh the food as it comes in,” said Lisa Seifert, one of the Food Pantry employees. “We’ll have the software on various stations around the pantry so they can enter whatever they need to at those points.”
Most of the equipment was purchased through a grant from the USDA, or donated by Food Pantry employees like Seifert.
“Now, using everything electronically rather than paper, hopefully it will be less paper, more reports, more automation,” Seifert said. “That’s the point.”
It was a great learning experience, said Ian Anderson, one of the Nicolet IT students and IT Club president. It’s always great to practice on real-world applications, he said.
“It was really representative of what they would be doing as IT professionals,” said Ethan Blue, Nicolet IT instructor. “Very much like a real world experience, with the added benefit of getting to help a charity.”
The students were not required to participate as part of the IT program. Blue said all the participants volunteered for zero credit, all for the sake of helping the Pantry.
“I thought it went great,” Blue said.