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Indiana Food Bank Gets Efficient With Help From Amazon

Gleaners COO and CFO Joe Slater (left) gives Amazon employees a tour of the freezer.
Jill Sheridan/Indiana Public Broadcasting
Gleaners COO and CFO Joe Slater (left) gives Amazon employees a tour of the freezer.

An Indiana food bank is getting food distribution tips from Amazon.

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana moves an average 30 million pounds of food to food insecure households each year. The online retail giant’s community program for food banks is called Kaizen which is Japenese for "change" says Amazon Director of Operations Mishtee Chatterjee.

"And we’re looking for ways in which we can change and make processes more efficient," says Chatterjee.

A small group of Amazon employees toured the Gleaners warehouse in Indianapolis to assess the current system. Gleaners Chief Operating Officer Joe Slater says much of the focus is on how to move an increasing amount of fruits and vegetables.

"Now we’re recovering, distributing and even purchasing fresh produce items, we’re getting donations straight from farmers in truck load quantities," says Slater.

When distribution is inefficient, some of that food spoils. Slater says Amazon's best distribution practices will help them serve more people.

"We need to double our distribution into central and southeast Indiana to really make a dent in the food insecurity problem that we have," says Slater.

Gleaners serves food pantries and schools in 21 Indiana counties.

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Jill Sheridan