Dear friends and neighbors,
Today we launched the first delivery of our free meals program!
For the first time, we worked through the full process of the program, steered expertly by program manager Kathy! Last week, our wonderful drivers were handpicked by Kathy and our driver coordinator Mia.
Yesterday afternoon, our workflow dispatcher Lydia worked with our software engineer David to prepare the day’s run. From the list of deliveries, she assembled a set of driver instructions and itineraries, that were sent out to all of our drivers yesterday evening.
Yesterday and today, our partner chefs Tony and Rhonda Gruska (pronounced Grushka) prepared, with many volunteers, our first set of 90 meals, out of our partner Ed Bauman’s stunning industrial kitchen. Much of the food was organic and sourced from local farmers, and from our partner Berkeley Food Network’s food pantry!
Tony and Rhonda
Our process manager, Michelle, organized the packaging and bagging process, with many volunteers contributing both work and suggestions. The first team (all aces!) is intended to form the core of a regular crew that, we expect, will have to grow significantly as we ramp up our volume.
Later this afternoon, Berkeley Food Network packed 15 large bags of groceries, each approximately enough for 14 meal portions, and handed them to us for delivery in a large pallet of food.
Our driver pickup area was ready, led by our pickup manager Esfandiar, and our drivers started arriving, right on schedule. When Laura, our first driver to arrive and take off, came through the pickup, we all felt that we had reached a great moment:
So we celebrated!
Car after car came…
… and went…
… under the helpful eye of our Ops Manager Nico, responsible for the run. Super volunteers Mia and Leonardo (they know almost everything about the organization) were ready to jump on any problem that might come up.
By the end of the afternoon, we had shipped our first delivery day, 90 cooked meals and another 210 meals in groceries. It is a small volume so far, but it is our first of many Mondays. Every week we will get better and deliver more.
This program works because several nonprofits partner across organizations, each bringing in a core strength that we all need. Bauman Wellness provides an extraordinary kitchen, in an amazing environment leased from the City of Berkeley. Berkeley Food Network provides much of the food and pre-packs all the groceries. Our volunteer chefs Tony and Rhonda, lead all the kitchen work, around an ethic of slow food and sustainable, organic, and locally sourced produce. And HelpBerkeley, of course, provides the organization and the delivery. Each partner is essential!
Finally, our amazing volunteers make it all happen. More than 40 volunteers participated in this launch. But I particularly want to thank @Soapgerl, @mgabriel, @LHH, @stone, @Gina, @gimhing, @henryamitchell3, @Esfandiar, @NicoReicher, @Leonardo, @Miajeffery, @Lharnish, @Beckiwp and @Chris for being there when we needed you!
On to bigger and even better delivery days