Reducing Operational Costs for a Hunger Relief Charity through Vehicle Routing

Millions of Americans find themselves in a situation where they do not have the means to provide themselves or their families with proper nutrition on a daily basis.  While there are a number of government programs in place to help, many still find themselves relying on private assistance to meet their needs.  In the private food assistance network, food banks serve as central locations for the collection, purchase, storage, and distribution of food though a network of partner agencies. A significant part of the operating budgets for these food banks includes funds to pay for transportation of food from the donor or purchase locations to the food bank warehouse. In this study, we partner with our local food bank to reduce the costs associated with donation collection. Our food bank has approximately retail donor locations that provide donations between one and five days each week. To further complicate routing decisions, there are limitations on which trucks may visit which locations. Therefore, we develop a routing methodology that is adaptable to changes in scheduling demands and minimizes the travel mileage requirement.

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