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Gifts, Donations, and Operations Management


Friday December 25, 2015

It’s the season of gift giving and charity. Like most businesses, food banks across the nation are realizing success from inventory management best practices, especially as they manage the increase in donations received from November through December. The Wall Street Journal reports how Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee uses software to handle its supplies.

“The push toward technology is part of a larger drive by food banks that are increasingly taking cues from the world of e-commerce on how to handle the surge in donations around the holidays,” writes Erica E. Phillips.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Feeding America distributes about 4 billion pounds of food to 46 million people annually, and food-drive donations surge around the holidays. The challenge for the food banks is delivering the perishable goods before they expire and keeping the canned and dried foods stored for distribution in the spring and summer when donations dwindle.

Now not-for-profits are starting to use the same types of resources as retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart. The article quotes Kathy Fulton, executive director of the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), a partner of APICS. “Commercial supply chains have this figured out, and humanitarian supply chains are following suit,” Fulton says.

Second Harvest Food Bank uses its software to expand its operations efficiently, choose new facility locations, use and distribute food by its sell-by dates, and maximize its inventory space.

ALAN’s Fulton says this benefits the food bank and the people who contribute. “The last thing you want is this fabulous donation that you can’t use quickly enough.” She knows this all too well, because ALAN uses logistics to assist with disaster recovery. You can donate to its efforts at

Gifts for you

You should be proud to be part of the APICS community: You work hard to bring the benefits and strategy of supply chain and operations management to your businesses and communities. In this season of gift giving, we are pleased to offer you resources to thank you. Visit to get your gift.