Needing more space due to increased demand is a good problem to have when it comes to our Fare for All program.
Fare for All is a low-cost grocery program, which increases access to fresh produce and lean meats throughout the state and helps families save up to 40% off of grocery prices. Over the last few years, this social enterprise has grown – we now have more sites and more shoppers than ever before, serving over 50,000 customers in 2017.
Fare for All uses a bulk purchasing model, meaning that the more food we buy, the better deal we can broker for our customers. Our new freezer/cooler, currently under construction, will provide the space we need to purchase more food, more often – ultimately getting more healthy meals onto the tables of families throughout Minnesota.
In addition to running our Fare for All program, The Food Group operates as a food bank to provide bulk food purchasing and free food distribution to food shelves and other hunger relief agencies throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Just as Fare for All is experiencing fast growth, we have also more than doubled our food shelf and meal program partners over the past three years.
The result? Higher demand for food and not enough space to meet this demand. Our current freezer capacity runs at 100% and we often have to pay for offsite storage. This is costly and results in extra work for our drivers and warehouse staff.
Our freezer/cooler expansion will enable us to purchase higher volumes of food, allowing us to expand our Fare for All program to additional communities. We will be able to reach more people that reside in food deserts, especially those in rural areas, and help them access the healthy food they need for themselves and their families.
Our freezer construction project has reached another milestone as the floor has been poured and is now complete.
While it sounds like a relatively simple project, it is anything but easy and has involved multiple phases to get us to this point.
Before breaking ground, we went through the planning and permitting process with the contractors and the City of New Hope. We also removed the racking that resided in the future freezer location. To accomplish this task, we completely redesigned our warehouse layout physically and within our WMS system (warehouse management system) – involving moving well over 1000 pallets worth of product.
Once the area had been cleared, we began the month-long process of installing the new freezer floor. After the removal of the old concrete floor in 6’x6’ chunks, we replaced the sand substrate, placed tubes for the heating system, laid sheets of insulation and installed rebar for support. Only then could we pour the 5” of concrete that will become our new freezer floor.
Partners Make It Possible
This success is no accident as we have surrounded ourselves with the best partners in their respective industries to provide expertise and workmanship. A special thanks to Custom Refrigeration (General Contractor and Mechanical), MH Installation (racking relocation), Tech Electric (Electrical) and Quality Cutting and Coring (concrete work) as they have proven to be phenomenal partners and supporters of our work.
This transformation is not complete! Stay tuned for updates on phases 3 and 4 of the Freezer/Cooler Transformation Project.