At the end of November, Loaves & Fishes opened a commissary kitchen in collaboration with Urban Ventures and the impact on our mission has already been felt.
“It has benefitted us by being able to produce bulk items. It allows our site coordinators to have more options in the warehouse and has increased our variety and access to food,” said Associate Executive Director Kiley Benson.
The kitchen opened at the right time as the need to help hungry Minnesotans has never been greater. In 2020, Loaves & Fishes served over 4.4 Million meals and there are no signs of slowing down in 2021 with 662,936 meals served through January and February.
Loaves & Fishes hired Executive Chef Jack Farrell to run the commissary kitchen.
“I was very excited about the idea of cooking every day,” said Farrell. “I think the commissary kitchen gives Loaves & Fishes freedom to be able to cook what we want instead of what others can provide for us. The new kitchen also increases our total output in terms of the number of meals we are able make on a weekly basis.”
“I am starting to get regular volunteers coming in on a weekly basis which has been great,” said Farrell. “Some of our volunteers come from the food industry so it’s great to hear about their work experience. Otherwise, it’s fun just to engage with them about what shows they are watching, what they are reading, or what else they are doing to get through the pandemic.”
Another key area that Loaves & Fishes is improving operations is in the warehouse. A new inventory system, Primarius, will be developed and installed early this year. Previously, Loaves & Fishes has not had a true inventory system in place.
Primarius is specifically developed for food banks using a web-based platform with the tools to efficiently manage operations. It will help Loaves & Fishes skew quicker, add more items to inventory, create custom reports and attach grants to food reporting to name a few advantages.
“The benefits are endless,” Benson explained. “This shows growth and responsibility with where we are at as an organization.”