Amway Day at KFB

Dec 10, 2009

Here’s a post from guest blogger Bridget Clark-Whitney, the Executive Director of Kids’ Food Basket and some pictures from our Amway volunteer day:

Kids’ Food Basket (KFB) and the 2,080 children of Kent County who receive a sack supper each weeknight are so thankful to Amway for helping KFB grow in several ways.

We were thrilled and humbled when Kids’ Food Basket was designated as the recipient of one of 25 specialized grants (this one for $100,000 disbursed over three years) given around the world in honor of the Amway 50th anniversary.  This grant has allowed KFB to feed several hundred more children in the Grand Rapids community, which is also the home of Amway.

KFB can add three new grade schools and six new summer sites during the next three years of the grant cycle. These children will have a healthy evening meal they can count on each weekday because of support from Amway.  A sack supper consists of 1,000 calories and five food groups, which are so vital to the physical, mental and emotional growth of children.  The kids served by KFB leave school each day with a meal, the comfort of knowing lunch was not their last meal of the day, and their dignity.

Kids’ Food Basket is incredibly grateful for the time Amway and its employees give to feed children in our community.  We would not be able to serve this many more children in our current space if not for the expertise of Amway staff helping KFB become Lean. Christopher Wilson, Amway operational excellence deployment champion/director, and his team have been SO instrumental in improving our processes to gain more from existing resources.

The Operational Excellence team undertook a Kaizen day (term for “continuous improvement”) to train us on streamlining our methods. Our challenges were heard and new systems created with KFB staff and volunteer input. “The time savings obtained with the new process was astounding. The original process required 41 seconds per meal, which means assemblers were able to package 88 meals per hour. Reducing the time to 4.5 seconds per meal meant that 800 meals could be packed every hour—a ten-fold improvement over the old assembly process! Not only did this mean a time savings for volunteers, but it also meant that KFB could potentially serve many more children without having to move into a larger space or requiring additional volunteers,” said Wilson. He thinks “the most spectacular outcome of the lean work we did is not just the incredible increase in throughput, but that by doing this, along with other lean improvements, KFB is able to stay where they are. Now not only can they operate in the space they have, they can also seriously consider increasing the number of sack suppers they produce, depending on food donations of course.”  KFB agrees and is ever appreciative of the thought, training and time invested by Amway in this project.

Thanks to the efficiencies that this project team from Amway created for KFB, we will have the ability to grow our critical services by 30 percent this fiscal year.  Because of the efforts of Amway, hundreds more children in Kent County won’t eat lunch as their last meal of the day.

Also a VERY important part of our partnership with the Amway community are the awesome volunteers Amway continues to provide by sending a group of volunteers to our site weekly to pack and deliver sack suppers.  Different departments and groups also take time at their headquarters to gather ingredients for and put together trail mix, a very healthy and popular part of KFB’s sack dinners.  Several departments have helped with KFB’s continued need for 100% juice boxes by facilitating juice box drives and collecting thousands of juice boxes, another essential part of the sack dinner.

Often teachers of the children that we serve will express the sheer delight they see when the bags, or sacks, of the sack dinners are decorated.  We frequently hear that the first thing kids do when they get their meal is look to see whether or not it’s decorated.  Thanks to hundreds of Amway employees who have decorated bags for KFB for over four years, thousands of food insecure children have taken home brightly decorated evening meals.  Simple gestures that make such a huge difference! Thank you!

Last year, Amway even helped place one if its seasoned executives, Jay Ertl, on the KFB board of directors, which gives a practiced voice to our leadership.  Jay’s been an outstanding addition to the governing body of KFB and we are delighted to have he and Amway so engaged in KFB’s mission.

Support from Amway has been tremendously instrumental in KFB’s ability to efficiently and effectively serve more food insecure children in Grand Rapids and we are extremely grateful for our special partnership.

We are honored to receive this support from Amway, an awesome company and a treasure in our community!  On behalf of the KFB staff, we thank you a million times over for being rock stars in the fight against childhood hunger!!!

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