Operational Improvements Drive Opportunities to Reach More People in Need
We are pleased to report that the funds we invested in equipment and programs last year to improve our operations is having quite an impact in our ability to reach more people who face food insecurity. This investment has resulted in improvements in key areas of the Food Bank operations, and so we wanted to share some of those successes with supporters who make our mission possible.
Our partner agencies across our 11-parish service area are essential to carrying out our mission of feeding the hungry. In the last year alone, 86% of our clients were served through agencies. We also witnessed a 31% growth in clients served from January through October.
Our operations department has not only improved their overall performance, but they have also piloted new programs to address the issue of food insecurity in our community. This year, we began the Summer Food Service Program to ensure that children living in low-income households can receive nutritious meals when they are not in school.
We have also started partnering with the Louisiana Department of Education to begin the Child and Adult Community Feeding Program, which allows us to be reimbursed for purchasing nutritious snacks that we provide to our agencies to disperse to clients.
Not only have we started new programs, but we have also seen growth in existing programs. Our Food is Medicine program, a partnership with hospitals and clinics to identify patients who are food insecure and provide them with a box of non-perishable, nutritious food, grew by 32% in 2023. The creation and expansion of these programs allow us to expand our reach to new groups of people who are facing food insecurity but previously didn’t know where to turn for help.
Internally, we have also seen an improvement in efficiency that allows us to move more food and reach more people. The investments we made to improve our operations have paid off, resulting in a 23% increase in inventory accuracies and a 42% increase in warehouse picking efficiencies. These improvements directly reduce our operating costs which allow our funds to work harder.
We have also seen achievements in the amount of food donated to the Food Bank. We began the year with a goal of having 6.3 million pounds donated, and we ended the year with 8.6 million pounds donated, putting us 2.3 million pounds over our initial goal. A portion of the donated pounds comes from retail donations, which have increased by 16% in the past year.
One of the largest changes we have made is the expansion of our bulk packaging capabilities. Our bulk packing machine allows us to take large amounts of dry goods and package them in smaller packages to distribute to our clients and partner agencies. Investing in pre-printed bags and improving our systems has given us the ability to pack 70 bags in 1 minute, resulting in a 204% increase in production.
Ultimately, these improvements and efficiencies in our operations department allow the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to reach more people in the community and address the issue of hunger. We look forward to continuing to meet the needs of the individuals in our community as we move into the new year.