City Harvest – A Case Study
Cloud is pervasive and is used across all sectors to do a ton of things. It’s no longer about corporates using it to gain business value and intelligence, rather it’s become an integral part of our everyday life. In fact, many small businesses and charity organizations are leveraging the power of cloud to improve their performance, efficiency and operations.
New York food charity called City Harvest specializes in collecting excess food from farms, grocers, restaurants and manufacturers and gives them free to more than 500 soup kitchens, community pantries and other community-based kitchens in New York.
One of the important aspects here is that City Harvest doesn’t move manufactured or cooked food., which means, it has to collect the raw ingredients like fruits and vegetables and deliver them quickly to community kitchens. During all this, it has to track the full chain custody of the food that is collected and delivered.
This charity has a fleet of 22 trucks and two tractor-trailers that make about 20 stops each day to collect and deliver food. Such a complex system requires high levels of operational accuracy and planning, and this is why it has turned to the cloud for help.
What it’s done is to have mobile apps that are used by drivers and the agencies to which it delivers. This gives it the ability to communicate in real-time. For example, when a driver makes a stop at a location, he or she can know what is available for pick-up. Once he posts it on the app, community kitchens can decide right away what they need and the same will be delivered to that kitchen within the shortest possible time.
The obvious advantage with such a system is that the food is collected and delivered fresh, so healthy meals can be served by these kitchens. Secondly, there is little to no waste and every kitchen gets to pick what they want from the available items. This way, City Harvest acts as a perfect bridge between the givers and users, and in the process ensures that no food is wasted.
Since all this data is stored in the cloud, there’s no more paper work involved. According to James Safonov, the IT head at City Harvest, it used to take the charity almost five days to reconcile paper work. With cloud, the same reconciliation is done in minutes, thereby saving the staff a huge amount of time and effort.
This additional time and effort is being spent in innovation and improving the efficiency of operations and getting more suppliers to their list.
For agencies and suppliers, this app helps them to see where their food is getting delivered. They can even get an understanding of the allocations made among community kitchens in real-time. This information can help them also to plan better.
For the users of community kitchens, this app is a blessing, Called Plentiful, this app helps them to register for food assistance and see what’s available in pantries and food kitchens. As a result, their wait time is reduced significantly and also eases administrative tasks for food providers and community kitchens.
Overall, a great example of how you can leverage the power of cloud.