The holiday season is a time for giving. Lucky for me, I had a golden opportunity to give just before the holidays this year when our customer, my friend Jonathan Miller of the hunger-relief organization Philabundance, extended an offer for me and the rest of the QuickLabel team to go down to Philadelphia and volunteer our time packaging food donations.
Philabundance is the Delaware Valley’s leading hunger-relief organization. AstroNova is proud to have such a world-class charitable organization using the QuickLabel Pronto! 486 (now the QL-30) to help repack and distribute donated food items.
How Philabundance Squashes Hunger
Philabundance feeds approximately 65,000 people per week. You might think because of its name that it only works to fight hunger in Philadelphia, but that isn’t the case: “Philabundance serves nine counties across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.” Beneficiaries might not be who you imagine either: “23% … are children, 16% are senior citizens, and the rest are families and single adults that are homeless, mentally disabled, or receive support from other social programs,” explained Senior Re-pack Manager Jonathan Miller.
In 2005, Philabundance integrated with the Philadelphia Food Bank and has since worked with more than 500 member agencies to contribute to food cupboards, emergency kitchens, shelters, daycares, and senior centers across the Delaware Valley Region in PA and NJ. “Our food acquisition team works very hard to solicit donations from corporations and from individuals,” said Miller. With contributions from food drives, food manufacturers, wholesale retailers, farmers, and financial donations, they have created a strong supply chain that provides hunger relief to Delaware Valley communities.
Once Philabundance receives these donations, it works quickly to repurpose them in the community. “From [acquisition], the repack and warehouse teams process the food and get it ready for distribution. Once the food is ready for distribution, our fleet of 13 trucks deliver the food to our network of 500 agencies, and to our direct service programs: Fresh For All and our Community Food Center.
Printing Labels … Pronto!
Philabundance has relied on the Pronto! 486 barcode label printer to streamline its re-packaging operation. Philabundance has such a high volume of donations coming in that they needed a quick solution to up the ante in their packaging process. “Primarily for high-volume labeling, the Pronto! helps us keep up. The operation goes pretty fast, it’s pretty big, so we needed a high demand, high volume label printer. The way the food comes of the line, the way the boxes get packed, we need something that keeps up and the Pronto! 486 has been a great help in fulfilling our production and keeping our volume high,” said Miller. “We love using it. We’re using the Pronto! to package our individual goods and bulk items.”
Re-Packing Donations to Beet Hunger
Each day Miller and his team use their QuickLabel Pronto! barcode label printer to print an average of 2,500 labels. The Pronto! labels are then placed on the sides of repacked food boxes in the “repacking phase” of the Philabundance production line.
Food that is donated to Philabundance goes through a production line where it is sorted by food type (i.e. baking goods vs. crackers). Once the food is sorted by type, it is packed into boxes, weighed, and labeled with a Pronto!-printed label.
While we were there volunteering, I repacked bulk boxes of baking goods. Each bulk box had to contain 15 pounds worth of baking goods, no less and no more. Once I packed and weighed each box, it was sealed with packing tape. Next, we gave it a label printed by the Pronto! 486 which stated the food type and weight.
Philabundance also packages smaller, individual boxes with foods such as packages of pasta. In this scenario, Miller creates box labels with nutritional facts panels and the Philabundance logo by using the intuitive NiceLabel® labeling software that was purchased to drive the Pronto! 486 label printer. (show image of scanned labels here) This repacking system makes the shipping, packaging, and inventory process much easier and more efficient for Philabundance. “The Pronto! definitely has been a lifesaver for our organization,” said Miller. “If you want to streamline your operation, cut down on your downtime, and really be able to improve the look of your product, then a Pronto! 486 is the label printer for you.”
Feeling the FulPHILment
After working at Philabundance for six-year, Miller said that his favorite part of the job is still “Knowing when I walk out the door at the end of the day that I helped someone in need get food – I helped someone eat.” After spending just a day at Philabundance, we at QuickLabel are also proud to have been a small part of a bigger effort and happy that our products have been able to contribute to Philabundance.
Food Insecurity Rose by 26% From 2010-2011
Unfortunately, the Delaware Valley is growing in food insecurity. Over the last year, Philabundance has seen a 26% increase in the size of the population it serves – and this increase comes on the heels of a prior increase of 22% between 2009-2010. “There are almost 900,000 people in need in the Delaware Valley,” said Miller.
“Can You Peas Help?”
Philabundance is working hard to end food insecurity. “It’s unacceptable,” said Miller simply. If you would like to help Philabundance fight hunger by volunteering your time, by donating food items, or by contributing money, you can do so by visiting their website: www.Philabundance.org
“Together We Can …” in Social Media
The use of social media has had an outstanding impact on Philabundance’s reach to the community. Having a number of public platforms has helped Philabundance accomplish its mission. Philabundance currently has 11,000 Facebook friends and over 2,500 Twitter followers who are “There to find out whether we have a big event planned for the week and also if we need volunteers for a shift,” explained Miller. On top of keeping followers and friends up-to-date with posts, Philabundance also has a YouTube channel where you can go to get a look into its day-to-day activities.
I am personally thrilled about what Philabundance is doing to fight hunger and am so happy my coworkers and I were welcomed to their home with open arms to donate our time not only to help a customer of ours but to also help the food insecure of the Delaware Valley region. It is amazing what Philabundance is able to accomplish and the outpouring of volunteers they see day after day. Although our part was a small piece compared to what they do each and every day, it was very meaningful to us. It feels great to be able to say you were even a small part of Philabundance’s work. Thank you to Jonathan, Anthony, David, and the rest of the Philabundance team for giving us an experience we’ll remember for a lifetime!