“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community.” Cesar Chavez
SAP has a great Month of Service program, held every year for the past 10 years in October that I recently participated in. It was an extremely fast paced 3 hours on a Wednesday afternoon at the Alameda County Food Bank here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our teams were sorting fresh produce – namely in season apples and green peppers (I think I personally handled about 500 green peppers in those 3 hours and there were many more to go!)
At the end, we regrouped for an overview of all the services and programs that the Alameda County Food Bank provides and I was amazed to learn that even here, where you would never think, software and technology has an impact to make peoples’ lives run better and run simpler. Here are some of the facts that they shared with us:
The Food Bank serves 1 in 5 Alameda County residents
Demand for emergency food has doubled since 2008
43% of their clients are children
This year, the Food Bank will provide 23.3 million meals to the community.
And last but not least:
For every $1 donated, they can distribute $6 worth of food
Technology can be their friend and can help present new opportunities. For example, in the past the Alameda County Food Bank got leftover supplies from major grocery chains such as Safeway, Lucky’s etc. As these companies have moved to better understand and manage their supply chains, grocery stores with the help of software from the likes of SAP, they have minimized the amount of spoilage and additional inventory left on their shelves. This has meant that they have also reduced the amount of food that they donate to Food Banks – forcing food banks to generate food supplies from other sources.
This forced the Alameda County Food Bank to think outside the box – literally. They made the switch and moved from packaged, boxed goods to put more emphasis on healthy eating and actual fresh produce. The end results of this included being able to provide healthier options for the community that they serve and also now are a major buyer of fresh produce direct from California growers.
There are always opportunities to do better and reinvent. Sometimes a change can mean regrowth and new opportunities. This was a great opportunity to serve the community, learn more about the real story behind what the Food Banks do and also see some elements of technology in action.
The Alameda County Food Bank’s main mission and hope would be that they would go out of business – because they aren’t needed any more. Technology should have opposite objective in my mind, to become more integrated into everyday usage, improve people’s lives and help make the world a better place.