I really look forward to Wednesday mornings.  It’s the day that I get to deliver food for Second Helpings in Indianapolis.  Over the course of a year this remarkable organization delivers more than 1 million meals in central Indiana. 1 million!   Even more remarkable is that this is food that has been rescued and donated and then prepared in Second Helpings’ kitchens.

The hallmark of the people I get to work with is kindness.  Pure and simple kindness.  It shows up as humor, as engagement and especially in a genuine belief in the mission of feeding people who need it.  They are all ages, from all walks of life and ethnicities but it’s the kindness that shines through.


When I arrive, I check a board where our assignments are waiting for us.  A green clipboard contains 5-6 delivery slips that name the organization and details the food that will be delivered.  The main meals are in 2” deep pans that are either cold and in the walk-in refrigerator, or hot and in one of 3 large ovens that are getting them up to temperature.


vanwith food

There are also packages of bread or desserts, crates of fruit or salad, cans of fruit and boxes of pantry supplies to be rounded up and moved to one of the 14 delivery vans out in the garage.  The meals are loaded into insulated boxes called cambros and the other items loaded into racks and floor space in the van.


So, in full disclosure I have a problem.  I cannot look at a set of activities or flows of work without wanting to redesign them.  This has been the case with this work.  My current best version is:

  • Check the slips and work out how many hot and cold meals there are. 5 2” trays will go into each cambro and of course the hot and cold can’t be mixed in a single cambro.  The number of cambros will dictate the size of van needed.
  • At this point I go and visit the transport manager John and get the keys to the van I need.
  • Next, I check the locations and the number of items to be delivered because some need wheels for the cambros or small carts for the boxes. All of which then need to be loaded into the van.
  • Now it’s time to get the food. I start with the bread and other bags and boxes that are on the list.  When I load them in the van I make sure that they are arranged in a way that all items for a location are next to each other, with labels showing.
  • Next, I go into the refrigerator with a cart to get the cold meals, fruit and salad items. I get this done quickly because it really is cold in there!   The trick here is to stack the pans in alternating angles because the pans are covered in thick foil and I don’t want the pans to sink into the ones below.
  • Out to the van and into the cambros, making sure that each location can be quickly found and delivered.
  • The last items to be loaded are the hot meals and that is only done once the manager checks and confirms the correct temperature has been achieved. This is my least favorite bit.  These ovens and meals are very hot and some of the oven gloves have seen better days.  I’ve figured out which are the best and find them first.  I also load into a cambro on wheels if there are more than 3 trays.


And then we are off, well at least we will be once the vans in the center of the garage are moved.  This is the next part of my redesign activities I’m going to see if I can suggest a few other ways to park up to John that will mean each of the vans are free to leave independently of the others.


So, stay tuned for the next part of delivering love.  Out with the clients.