Feed Nova Scotia’s executive director is using tools honed by years of grocery industry experience to ensure as little food as possible from grocery stores in the province goes to waste.
“If you’re a retailer, you try and figure out what’s the lowest landed cost to get the product on the shelf. It’s no different for me,” says Nick Jennery, whose organization provides food to 147 agencies food banks, 40 shelters and meal programs.
The organization has leased new refrigerator trucks this year to improve the logistics of getting food to those who need it most.
“I needed trucks that were very efficient at doing that,” says Jennery, who started his career as a quality control manager at the former Steinberg’s grocery chain’s Ontario division Miracle Food Mart and adds an ex-president of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.
The five leased trucks replaced old trucks owned by Feed Nova Scotia that had as much as 800,000 km. on their odometers and high operating costs.
“Simple math determined that a leased fleet was the way to get reliability, better cold chain integrity and at the least cost,” he says.
Because most its food is donated, the agency can get three meals worth of food out to each agency it supports at a $2 cost. “It’s an amazing business model.”
Jennery notes that as a result of his grocery experience “I’ve had supply chain burned into my whole DNA.”
Feed Nova Scotia collects food one to three times a week from Sobeys, Loblaw, Costco and Walmart stores and distribution centres throughout the province. The major retailers “are far and away the largest source of food that we get.”
He notes at least half of the 2 million kg. of food that the organization distributes annually is perishable and that retailers expect product integrity to be maintained.
Feed Nova Scotia is now speaking to grocers about it how it can expand its collection program to include more stores and product categories.
Not having to fight the traffic jams of downtown Toronto or Montreal allows the organization to be extremely nimble in how it collects food from donors, he adds.
“This is all about redirecting product in a timely, planned and proactive way so that it does not impact anybody’s competitive edge and allows support for a very vulnerable sector in our community,” he says. “If you can do those two things together, you really do have an aspirational model and something you can be proud about.”
Jennery says retailers in the province have a deep sense of community and want to help out those who are vulnerable. “Nova Scotia is not a rich province, but it gives like it is one.”