West Suburban Community Pantry using translator tool to communicate with migrant clients

West Suburban Community Pantry recently began using the Instant Language Assistant by Translate Live to defeat the language barrier that was impeding the pantry’s ability to serve their increasingly diverse migrant population, according to a news release.

The new device is changing the way staff and volunteers communicate with customers who speak more than 17 global languages now seeking groceries, household items, and services at WSCP, according to the release.

“It’s a critical piece of equipment,” pantry CEO Suzanne Armato said in the release. “More than half of our community doesn’t choose English as their first language. Ensuring we connect our community to the healthy foods they want and need and support services that can help stabilize and improve their lives – well that begins with talking to one another.”

The ILA supports 120 languages. It offers a variety of dialects, and it can be loaded with common phrases to ease in specific uses. The ILA is used by volunteers and staff to welcome customers, introduce them to the supportive services and assist with check-in and registration. The device features two screens – the text and screen colors can be changed to aid customers with low vision. Customers can speak or text using the tablet, or they can enter a virtual chat room and use their own phone without setting up an account.

“I’ve seen firsthand the power of this small piece of hardware,” Paul Matsushima, director of pantry operations, said in the release. “Recently, I helped several newly immigrated individuals sign up to get groceries using the ILA. It allowed us to have a conversation and put us on equal footing. It really breaks down the language barrier and reduces the stress of a new situation for all. We could use a lot more to help assist our community. One really isn’t enough.”

West Suburban Community Pantry located in Woodridge served more than 110,000 individuals in DuPage and Will counties seeking food and resources last year. Implementing the use of devices like the ILA is critical to increasing the efficiency of pantry operations and serving with dignity.