Off-site storage has already transformed the first aisle of the grocery market.
Strange things appear to be happening at 1871 High Grove. Storage racks are disappearing, new displays are popping up in the grocery market and the warehouse has bright light beaming down from the now visible windows. What else can be expected and how will it benefit our clients, volunteers and operations? “With the growing number of clients, and overwhelming support of our volunteers, the demand to make the Loaves & Fishes experience better has become greater and greater,” says Megan Selck, President & CEO. “This transformation has been developing over the past few months, and the time is now. With an emphasis on healthier options and promoting the dignity of our clients, the new set up will allow for a positive experience for all.”
Rented storage space at 1864 High Grove has been a tremendous help during the reconfiguration
During the month of March, Loaves & Fishes staff and volunteers are moving product across the street to a rented 5,000 square foot warehouse/office space. The storage of dry and canned goods across the street has already had dramatic impact on Loaves & Fishes’ operations. “We are rescuing more food, so we have needed more space to receive, sort, and store the food we receive,” explains Cary Gilkey, Director of Food Operations. “We have been sorting and processing 60,000 to 90,000 lbs of food that we receive every week. Multi-tasking in the cramped area has been a challenge. Safety and productivity are goals in our future improvements.”
(Left) Cramped spaces for sorting has (Right) opened up to improve the volunteer experience
Shelly Schmitz, Director of Volunteer Engagement, also sees added benefits and increased safety for our volunteers. “The back area is bigger, brighter and safer for those operating machinery or performing the important work of sorting through our fresh foods,” describes Shelly. “We continue to explore ways to improve the volunteer experience!” We have already seen improved productivity and eliminated much of the ‘double handling’ that previously occurred with incoming food. “It has become easier for staff and the volunteer captains to supervise and control the product flow,” says Cary.
In April, the grocery market reset will begin! The flow of the market will change to create a better client shopping experience. This will include less standardized shelving, an open floor plan and additional “showcase” refrigeration, similar to those seen in grocery markets. Thanks to grant funding from The DuPage Community Foundation and UPS, Loaves & Fishes can provide 12,000-15,000 lbs. more fresh, nutritious food to clients through these new refrigeration units.
“Our new configuration can be another opportunity to help our clients improve nutrition and develop better eating habits,” points out Jane Macdonald, Director of Nutrition & Wellness. “we will continue to educate our clients about the value of these choices. We can create nutrition ‘nudges,’ like placing healthy options at easy reach, opening our display area visually, and adding key messages on our shelves, that reinforce healthy lifestyles. It will be very reassuring to our families to know that Loaves & Fishes is concerned about health, and can meet nutrition challenges even under difficult circumstances.”