The monthly update for our most dedicated supporters from Gidi Kroch
Wowee, what an incredible first quarter of 2021 for Project Leket. Over 13,200,000 lbs. of fresh produce were rescued by the Leket team in the first three months of the year. The types of produce that Leket received the most of were potatoes 1,880,000 lbs.; carrots 1,278,000; peppers 1,104,000 lbs.; cucumbers 1,160,000 lbs. and clementines 926,000 lbs. This puts Project Leket at almost 30% of its annual goal and 4,100,000 lbs. above the same period last year.
As was discussed in past Leket Beets, the work done with McKinsey in analyzing Leket’s gleaning program gave a better understanding of the potential for rescuing significantly more fruit and vegetables. While the study did not yield any surprises, it made it clear that we can and should do more. The relationship with McKinsey did not end with the study but includes recommendations required to create the infrastructure to move the plan forward. It includes but is not limited to increasing the number of supervisors in the fields, hiring additional harvesters, leasing more trucks, and putting pressure on packing houses to donate their surplus, as it is more fiscally responsible for Leket than picking ourselves. So far, there has been a growth in collections from packing houses and the ratio between picking and collecting is 1:1.4. which means that Leket is collecting 40% more from packing houses than what is being picked in the field creating a significant savings for Leket.
In analyzing the results of the first quarter of 2021, the McKinsey recommendations have already begun to yield the expected results. Marginal Product has increased and although overall expenses are higher than last year, there is much more produce coming into the Logistics Center. We have increased our efficiency as well – truck capacity is up; quality of the produce is up and the fields that are harvested by Leket gleaners have more produce. Most importantly – Leket staff is all fired up and there is a great sense of pride and accomplishment as well as positive competition amongst the supervisors, which is pushing them to do more. This year is also the first time the Logistics Center received and delivered truckloads of produce during Passover. Even in just the past few days, there has been an average of fifteen outsourced trucks rolling in every day with fruit and vegetables, mostly grade A and B. Grade B is now being washed and dried in our new sorting machine. It is now easier to sort even more produce and the residual waste is less than 4%. The estimations are that Leket can rescue at least 225,000 lbs. more produce annually just by sorting better. At an average retail cost of $1 per lb. and the cost of the sorting machine being $75,000 we will recover the cost of the machine within 4 months. Not bad, eh?
This is just the beginning. While the negative impact of the pandemic is long lasting, one good thing to come out of it was the opportunity to grow and increase our productivity and output. We will turn lemons into lemonade by addressing the additional hardship COVID-19 created and grab onto opportunities and turning them into more nutritious food for those who depend on Leket.