31 March 2021

Webinar 2 – Operation of a food distribution center


Flavour aims to support a diverse group of mentors and coaches working in the food surplus sector in UK and Belgium. The first webinar was dedicated to food safety and handling. This 2nd webinar focused on the management and operation of a food distribution center in general. How can we create an effective work environment for people far from the labour market? 

Fareshare Sussex, an established Food distribution center in the Sussex region presented their operations. Emily (warehouse manager) shared her experience of running a busy warehouse, managing 50 to 120 volunteers. Food distribution entails lots of paperwork, food safety rules, practical rules. How do you make sure every volunteer knows and adheres to the rules and processes?

The key message – learning point – is to always allow enough induction time for a new volunteer and explain ‘WHY’ certain procedures and paperwork exist, in other words why things need to be monitored and recorded. An example could be a particular document that is a legal requirement and is used for auditing purposes. The other key learning point is the constant ‘REPETITION’ – reminders of ‘all the necessary legally binding procedures.

“It is vital to explain why a certain process  is necessary and what is the implication of ‘not doing it’”

In the words of Emily ‘It is vital to explain why a certain process (paperwork or action) is necessary and what is the implication of ‘not doing it’. An example Emily provided: Proper temperature control is the single most important measure in preventing food poisoning and therefore must be strictly controlled. If the temperature of a fridge/freezer is not recorded – it means that the food must be thrown away. Explaining the ‘WHY’ helps volunteers to feel part of the bigger picture and comes with a sense of responsibility and accountability.

Esmee (Marjon Uni) built on Emily’s presentation and presented  different strategies to create supportive environment on the workfloor. One important element is giving effective feedback, using the BIFF model (Behaviour, impact, future, feeling). It’s an effective model that can be used for positive actions and also for those that require corrections (change). 

The Belgium project partners (Herw!n, VIVES Hogeschool and Vonst) delivered a comparable webinar to all the Dutch and Belgium partners, collaborators and other food (surplus) processing or distributing organisations.  Report in Dutch (here)

The webinars are part of the FLAVOUR project which aims to create socially innovative business models to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of services dealing with food surplus whilst creating jobs/pathways to employment. The webinars are to foster cross – border learning and engagement and create a platform for sharing knowledge and resources; with the aim of supporting mentors/coaches and organisations in their work with people far from the labour market in the food ‘surplus’ sector.