As food banks and nonprofit hunger relief organizations across the country strive to increase their inventory of temperature-sensitive fresh and nutritious foods, the demands on their operations—from staff and driver training, to added refrigeration technologies—can be challenging.
To support this shift to more nutritionally focused models, Thermo King plans to provide pro bono training to food banks through its We Move Food program. The customized trainings are aimed at upskilling food bank drivers, staff and volunteers to safely handle and transport a growing inventory of perishable foods.
“We’re really passionate about sharing our knowledge and expertise because we know refrigeration and the best practices for keeping food safe,” said Bob Stearns, general manager at Illinois Auto Central (IAC), one of nearly 200 Thermo King dealerships across the country. “By bringing this training to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, we can help get new drivers up-to-speed quickly, and make sure perishables are being loaded properly to ensure these fresh, healthy foods continue to move safely to our communities struggling with hunger.”
IAC is one of the first dealerships to design a customized training program as an extension of the We Move Food program, which is strengthening the partnerships between Thermo King dealers and their local food banks, Thermo King said.
“As we have increased our distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables in recent years, Thermo King’s expertise has proven to be invaluable in helping us onboard new drivers and equip them with the knowledge and training to fully deliver on our mission,” said Joe Rodriguez, senior director of operations at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
The We Move Food onsite training program can be tailored to the specific needs of the nonprofit food bank based on size, staff and refrigeration capacity, the company maintained. For food banks interested in driver training, hands-on learning covering the technical aspects of operating a refrigeration unit may be important to their operations. Thermo King dealers can address pre-cooling requirements, including what to do when a unit shuts down. They can also help drivers understand the alarm code list so they can determine what is an emergency and what actions are needed to ensure the integrity of their load.
In addition to technical training for drivers, the We Move Food program can provide comprehensive food safety education for warehouse staff and dock loaders. Covering important basics, this training module reviews safe loading and handling practices, how to ensure proper air flow when loading a refrigerated truck, why it’s important to shut down a unit when the trailer door is open, and more, Thermo King said.