Changing our Processes Leads to More Food for the Hungry – Ways You Can Help

We’ve been busy over the past several years. Very, very busy – all for the good of hungry people in our state.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about tracking progress, tracking inventory, and in the end helping hungry clients.

Since the mid 1990’s, we’ve been measuring how many pounds we receive and distribute with a formal inventory tracking system.

For many years, our growth was steady until we hit a wall.  The size of our previous home, located near the airport in Albuquerque, limited our ability to continue growing.  By 2003, we had no room to expand.

That changed with the move to our warehouse near Jefferson in the spring of 2009. A larger facility allowed us to grow at a time when our help was needed more than ever.  In 2008 and 2009, our network of agencies and programs were experiencing a 40% increase as more families, adults, seniors and children began seeking help with food, many for the very first time. The recession took hold of our economy as jobs began to disappear in many areas.  We needed to have the ability to respond to the huge increase and demand for help with food. A larger warehouse helped us with that and we began to grow again.

The move to this building allowed us to distribute 5 million more pounds of food, 22 million in fact, the most we had ever distributed.

However, with the recession, a major facility move, and a branch location opening in Las Cruces we had no time to properly address our internal processes for receiving and distributing food. For the first time, we analyzed how we did everything in our warehouses.  Since the fall of 2012, we’ve been focusing efforts on improving our operations. These operational changes were implemented at the beginning of this calendar year.  The result is that very few processes in the warehouse are the same.

We’ve changed everything from how we route the trucks to streamlining how we process incoming foods to the use of space in the warehouse. We now have volunteers in every area performing duties they hadn’t previously. For the first time volunteers are utilized in all aspects of our warehouse functions except driving our trucks.

All of these changes have made us more efficient in our internal processes allowing us to steward the precious gift of the foods we rescue and distribute.

With these efficiencies, we have been able to increase what we receive and distribute almost every month so far this year. In 2013 we have already distributed 11.6 million pounds of food compared to 10 million last year. If the increased volume of food continues, we will have a record year when it comes to receiving and distributing food this calendar year.

All of these changes are positive except one – the continued effects of the recession in New Mexico.  It isn’t over yet.  Underemployment, unemployment and lower wage jobs are not enough for our fellow New Mexicans to put regular meals on the table.  And if federal hunger programs such as SNAP receive the drastic cuts we expect, this increase of pounds will be important for the Food Bank to try to meet another surge of need as clients turn to us more often for help with food.

Our work continues on and is not yet finished. We want to maximize our resources and continue to be an effective food distribution organization to our network of partner agencies and hunger relief programs. We can’t feed nearly 40,000 people every week without efficiency. You are part of that chain of efficiency with and through your support.

Together with your help we can solve hunger.  It will take all of us as a community coming together to make it happen. Please consider helping whether it is in the form of giving food, giving funds or giving time to volunteer. Each and every gift is important as we continue to feed hungry clients around the state.

Many thanks for helping in whatever way you can!

Teresa Johansen is the Chief Operating Officer at Roadrunner Food Bank.

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