Case study: How Bonney Lake Food Bank is using text messaging to communicate more efficiently with clients.

bonney lake

The Bonney Lake Food Bank was first introduced by the City of Bonney Lake to meet the needs of struggling individuals and families in Pierce County. Their mission is to provide food and support to their neighbors facing food insecurity while leading the fight against hunger in their community. 

The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the Food Bank’s operations. Not only did they suddenly see a 2.5x increase in the number of clients, but they were also challenged with not being able to serve them the same way - before COVID, clients would come into the Food Pantry to pick up their provisions on a regular basis. 

With clients now unable to physically collect their items, the team at Bonney Lake Food Bank had to transition to a drive-thru and delivery model. Initially, they were relying on email and social media posts to communicate with clients about the new procedures, but engagement was very low. Plus, many people had questions around delivery schedules or when to come in to pick up an order, which were difficult to address through those channels. “We had to find a way to communicate with our clients effectively on their terms. After discussing internally we were convinced that text messaging was our best bet”, says Jenson Isham, Board President at Bonney Lake Food Bank. 

“We have been floored by the impact we are seeing using Avochato. It’s been a game changer for us in a time of unprecedented growth and rapid change.”
Jenson Isham, Board President, Bonney Lake Food Bank

The Bonney Lake Food Bank therefore decided to start using SMS to communicate with clients. After evaluating three or four different options, they decided to work with Avochato, due to the product’s ease of use and advanced texting functionality. 

Now, the team uses Avochato for practically all client communications. When food deliveries are scheduled, for example, the Food Bank can easily message all individuals in a certain wave to keep them up-to-date on the status. Currently, they’re managing around 200 conversations a month, with significantly higher open and response rates. If clients have questions, they can simply reply to the text message and be assisted by someone on the team without having to wait on hold. Plus, when wildfires forced the Food Bank to shut down for a few days, Avochato was also instrumental in helping them coordinate and reschedule deliveries with minimal impact to their operations. 

The Food Bank team is also using SMS Surveys in multiple languages - including English, Spanish, and Russian - to understand clients’ preferences when it comes to deliveries or back to school needs, for example. When triggered, surveys automatically ask a list of questions over SMS and save the responses to a clients’ profile. 

Since starting to work with Avochato, Bonney Lake Food Bank has seen significant improvement in communication efficiency. They’ve been positively surprised by people’s responsiveness to text messages. “We have been floored by the impact we are seeing using Avochato.  It’s been a game changer for us in a time of unprecedented growth and rapid change”, according to Isham. 

Following the success of SMS communications with clients, the Food Bank  is considering using Avochato to engage with donors and volunteers as well.


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