by Tim Kean
How do we hold 9 pounds in a 5-pound box? Answer – it’s a struggle. We have been wrestling with limited refrigerated space for at least the last two years. The last 6 months have been very painful as we’ve needed to substantially increase the volume of products we’re receiving and distributing, with refrigerated products mostly being all we could get. Currently over 60 % of all pounds we handle are refrigerated or frozen. Since May we have been using 2 refrigerated trailers in our parking lot that have been loaned to us to help with the overflow. This week we were notified that if we intended to continue to use them that the time had come to convert them into a rent, lease, or purchase arrangement. We’re extremely grateful for the offer to use them and we could not have operated at our current volume without them, but this will mean an additional expense in some form.
The big, long-term solution is expanding our cooler and freezer. This will allow us to operate with much more efficiency and control. Currently we have to move 3 things to get to 1 we need. We are unloading and re-loading storage trailers on our parking lot to load one trailer that will be distributed today. We are storing pallets inside the cooler where the fork trucks need to drive to pull pallets from the storage racks, so we have to move several pallets out to get to the products in the storage racks. This slows everything down and is more frustrating when you’re super busy. Our warehouse team has been getting some long-term experience in developing patience. They are doing literally all they can do. We need to move toward a long-term solution. It will take around 2 million dollars. If we had the money and started today it will take roughly 7-9 months to complete according to experts in that field.
On a brighter note, thanks to gifts in 2019 from a very generous anonymous donor and the Shafer Foundation, we were able to have a 32 solar panel ground-height array installed across from our office building. This array is generating enough solar power to provide what we need to operate the electrical requirements for all of our offices. The installation was completed in the late spring of this year and we are now in the process of getting some landscaping and signage installed that will serve as a new valuable destination point of discussion in the tours we give our visitors. This important first step is just the beginning of a project that can be expanded exponentially for the future. We have already got another grant opportunity now in the works for the next step expansion in this important development.
We see the story of our “green footprint” being expanded as a significant educational opportunity. As we are able to re-engage people back into our space connected with volunteering, tours and various other on-site meetings we will continue to share how our green impact has been growing. We have been in the recycling business for over 37 years with food and supplies for families in need. We also have had a significant impact with all the cardboard and pallets that we generate getting recycled weekly for about that same amount of time. Our more recent LED lighting, high efficiency furnace and insulation projects have added to reducing our impact on the environment as well. The story continues to build with every step we can take.