Kitchens for Good named 2023 Excellence in Sustainable Development Award Winner

Kitchens for Good (KFG) is a San Diego nonprofit that is transforming lives through culinary arts. Apprentices with barriers to employment gain technical and life skills they need to launch meaningful careers in the hospitality industry. KFG supports local farms and Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE). They are sustainability focused, working to reduce food waste and practicing environmental stewardship in their portfolio of social enterprises.

KFG experienced a spike in demand for their Project Nourish from the community during COVID-19. Project Nourish is a hunger-relief program that provides nutritious prepared meals to San Diegans.

As the program grew, Kitchens for Good struggled to efficiently achieve the higher packaging demand. The leadership team needed volunteers to increase packaging production from 267 meals per hour to 560 meals per hour.

To better understand the current state, the process improvement team observed the process and documented it into a Swim Lane diagram, interviewed the volunteers who worked in the process, and conducted some time and motion studies. They used a Fishbone Diagram to brainstorm causes of production bottlenecks.

The process improvement team implemented a number of countermeasures to address the
key root causes identified.

The improvement team decided to create 4 production pods. Each pod would be assigned a certain
number of meals. The team took 1100 meals and divided them by 4 for a total of 275 meals
per pod. The Takt time for each pod was 26.2 seconds per meal. To make it a little easier for
the volunteers, this was translated to 35 meals every 15 minutes. This helped them better identify barriers to flow and opportunities for improvement.

Next, they had volunteers come in earlier so they could start right at 5am, and assigned them automatically into pods (instead of self-selecting) as soon as possible.

They also balanced the line to minimize the waiting time, and created standard work for setup and controlling of portion sizes by adding a scale to each pod.

They achieved impressive results, increasing meal production from their baseline of 267 meals per hour to their target of 560 meals per hour. After a few more weeks, they managed to achieve 800 meals per hour!

Their efforts supported the following UN SDGs:

As a result of their multi-year efforts and results, they were awarded with the 2023 Excellence in Sustainable Development award from the IISE Sustainable Development Division.

A webinar will be scheduled in Summer/Fall 2023 to present their work and successes, so check back for more updates or links to the presentation.

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If you are interested in the Sustainable Development division of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), become a member today!


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