We always like to share with you how we are working hard to eliminate waste and do things as efficiently as possible. Nowhere is this more evident than with our Kids Cafe kitchen staff. There are 4 kitchen staff who prepare over 1,000 meals a day. THAT in itself is pretty impressive to me. They work extremely hard, and thanks to some very generous people, we were able to purchase the equipment that increases our efficiency.
About two weeks after Thanksgiving someone donated over a ton of pumpkins. While it's exciting for someone to think of us, it sometimes catches us off guard because we don't know how to get them distributed to our agencies before they go bad. I cannot think of one agency that has the capacity, space, or time to make pumpkin puree. This is the only way to use pumpkins. The good news is, fresh pumpkin puree makes the best pumpkin pies, but the bad news is that it takes an incredible amount of work. Our agencies are working so hard and so fast and that they don't have time for such a labor-intensive work.
I will admit all of this went through my head when the truck pulled up. I thought to myself, those are going to make really good compost for The Garden. No one is going to want to take those and we are going to have to throw them away.
I had made my mind up, but fortunately I work with brilliant people. Our Kids Cafe Director Leigh Fuller was already working a plan. What's great about Leigh is she is always thinking about how her staff can help HPFB extend the life of fresh produce. The kitchen is equipped with a vacuum sealer and a blast chiller. They had been preparing extra food with the regular meals each day. They took the extra pan of food and vacuumed sealed and blast chilled. After a few months of extra meals and towards the end of the semester, they needed to really start using those meals.
The perfect storm was happening and we didn't even know it. So Leigh took all of those pumpkins to her staff and started breaking down the pumpkins and making puree. You will not find a better group of people than our kitchen staff. They switched to pumpkin mode and made it possible for us to utilize a donation to its fullest. And, they put them back into the Food Bank inventory where the agencies will order them. In other words, they took something that no one could use and created a product everyone would want to use.
We are always striving for efficiency.