(Above, an architectural rendering of the new kitchen.)

Don Morrison, Operations Manager, discusses the impact that the consolidation will have on Wayside’s work.

Q: What is the biggest impact of the moves?

A: Saving time. We will no longer have to load a van with food at the warehouse, drive to the kitchen and then unload.

When you add it up, we have been spending about 40 hours a month driving back and forth from the kitchen to the warehouse. Those are hours that we could be spending on other tasks. With the kitchen and warehouse located in one place, all of our food will be just a few steps away from the cooking.

Q: What about cost savings? 

A: In addition to reducing rent costs, we won’t need to replace a van, which died last fall. Instead of needing three vehicles we will only need two.

Q: What will the new kitchen mean for operations?

A: Right now we are limited in our hours of kitchen operations. We currently share facilities with the Portland Public Schools, and we only have access to our kitchen from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. And we don’t have access on weekends. 

While the relationship with the schools has been great, the lack of flexibility has been a challenge.

We have had to say no to some weekend events because of a lack of weekend kitchen access.

And having our own space means that we will now be able to use our kitchen for education programs such as healthy cooking and nutrition. I’m just so excited to be in control of the kitchen hours. More flexibility translates into greater capacity.

Q: How will the move impact cooking and meal planning?

A: We make a great effort to use healthy, fresh food that we have on hand for our meals. With the kitchen and warehouse in separate locations, this can be challenging – especially when dealing with perishables.

With the kitchen so close to the warehouse, we will be able to make use of perishables in a more timely manner. And having our full inventory of food readily available, without the need to transport, means greater flexibility in meal planning.

Q: What are some of the other changes that you are looking forward to?

A: The move will really help with communications. Email and phone calls are great. But there is something to be said for proximity in working with colleagues. Face-to-face is often quicker and leaves less chance of misunderstanding.

And there’s much more – from keeping our filing in one spot, to having access to supplies. In the past, if we needed something like highlighters or note pads, we needed to either wait until we were at a meeting at Lancaster Street, or make a trip across town for supplies.

Being a few steps away from the administrative office will make life much easier for everyone. We have been joking about how great the move will be for our sanity. 

The consolidation will also help us make better use of our volunteers. Right now, there may be down time in the warehouse, with little for volunteers to do. 

However, after the move, we’ll be able to use volunteers to help in the kitchen or perhaps for a project in the office when there’s downtime in the warehouse. It will allow a smarter use and coordination of volunteers. I can’t say enough positive things about this move.