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River Bend Foodbank received its largest-ever financial donation on Thursday — a grant from the Deere Foundation for $1.3 million. 

Michael Miller, president and CEO of River Bend Foodbank, said the money will go toward new equipment, resources and the hiring of a data systems coordinator. The foodbank is the largest hunger relief organization in the Quad-Cities area, having distributed more than 15 million meals last year.

"We invest in River Bend Foodbank because we know they are best equipped to end hunger in our community and surrounding 23 counties," said Laura Eberlin, citizen project manager for Deere & Co. "Our partnership with River Bend Foodbank has shown us how innovative they are in their effort to end hunger, shorten the lines and help our neighbors that are food insecure in the Quad-Cities." 

Hiring the new position is one step in implementing and maintaining the foodbank's strategy, Service Insights, which is a computerized client tracking system. It provides real-time data on the people who use the organization's services and how often they visit. 

The data systems coordinator will be tasked with analyzing the data and the effectiveness of the foodbank's programs, Miller said. 

"We know how much food we're distributing, but we don't know a whole lot yet about the effects we have on the people we give the food to," Miller said. "This will help us not just track our outputs, but our outcomes." 

The grant also will help River Bend Foodbank reach its ongoing goal of tripling the number of meals it distributes, he added. 

Miller thanked the Deere Foundation for its continued support, through regular financial donations and volunteer work.

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