Matt Nigro, lead logistics officer, heads the distribution team at Project Angel Heart. During one of the most challenging times Project Angel Heart has experienced, he’s led with clarity of vision and purpose. We spoke to him about his team’s work over the past year, including how they’ve adapted.
How did implementation of the new meal delivery routing software work out?
This was one highlight of the year. Lots of research and testing led up to the launch in mid-January, and we’re thrilled that volunteers have provided positive feedback since we made the change. With our previous system unable to keep up with the growth of metro Denver and Colorado Springs, it was past time for an upgrade. The new program automates our weekly process of assigning 1,300 clients onto over 100 routes and generates user-friendly, accurate maps for our drivers.
How has distro adapted during COVID-19?
Nearly every aspect of our distribution process has changed – in some cases multiple times – to ensure we’re operating as safely as possible during the pandemic. Some volunteer shifts only required the basic additions of masks, gloves, and social distancing. Other processes needed multiple adaptations and large adjustments, such as restricting most volunteers from entering our facility and meeting them outside instead. Also of note, we reduced our meal packing operation from nearly thirty volunteers to just thirteen and reimagined the use of our space to avoid overcrowding among those volunteers.
What was the biggest change in delivering meals from 2019-2020?
The biggest change to meal deliveries was the move to a “no contact” service. In the best interest of everyone involved, our volunteer drivers are now required to take extra precautions. They must change gloves or use hand sanitizer for each delivery, and set bags outside each client’s door before moving back a safe distance. We’re looking forward to a time when our volunteers and clients can enjoy longer visits again – even indoors! Until then, meal deliveries will continue to happen with limited, distanced interaction. We also recognized that a one-size-fits-all policy was not going to meet each client’s individual needs. For clients with severe mobility issues who require assistance to bring meals inside or put them away, we instituted an additional procedure: a few staff members complete those deliveries while wearing the proper PPE including an N95 mask.
What else do you think people would like to know?
Our supporters should be proud to know that they’ve kept us afloat and helped us serve more people than ever before. Not only have we completed every single delivery as planned, but we’ve also provided 16,000+ shelf-stable emergency meals, increased our client base, shipped meals to new towns around Colorado, and partnered with local hospitals to serve people battling COVID-19. Every meal delivered this year has helped keep clients out of the hospital and safe at home, and we’ve done so with renewed perspective of what’s important, with gratefulness for our community.