By Ed Matarese, Facilities Director
$3.55 per gallon for regular gasoline? $3.89 per gallon for diesel fuel?? The global economy and international tensions pointing to even higher fuel costs in the immediate future??? The cost of doing business continues to escalate, but our mission remains the same: “Feed the hungry in Delaware.”
But in order to continue our mission, we must adapt to higher costs, especially the rising cost of fuel and other utilities. Fluctuating fuel prices are the norm nowadays. In the past 5 years, the cost of regular gasoline has gone from $2.36/gallon in the spring of 2006, to a peak of $4.12 in the summer of 2008, and is steadily climbing back to that level in early 2011 ($3.55 in our area). Due to more strict environmental regulations, higher federal taxes and increased worldwide demand for diesel fuel, the price per gallon of diesel is quickly approaching $4.00/gallon.
At The Food Bank of Delaware, we use both types of fuel; regular for our food delivery vans and diesel for our box trucks and tractor trailers. In order to cope with the increase in fuel costs, we are changing some of the ways we do business. In prior years, it was not unusual for our drivers to travel to Texas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and other states, primarily to deliver food and other items to food banks in those states, and return with a trailer load full of inventory which we needed. Today, the reality of increased fuel costs and the cost of maintaining our fleet of vehicles has made us turn to third party trucking companies to make these deliveries and pick ups more economical. We are analyzing our current fleet and are in the process of selling some of our tractor trailers and increasing our fleet of smaller box trucks and vans for local deliveries.
Our drivers still deliver food from Claymont to Seaford, but we are especially careful to make sure we coordinate our delivery routes and increase the number of deliveries in each vehicle to maximize efficiency. We are also grateful to local corporations who have stepped up to help us in our mission, such as Wilmington Trust who has supplied us with gas cards for our drivers to reduce our fuel costs, J P Morgan Chase who donated a new, 24-foot refrigerated delivery truck and Ford / Newman’s Own who donated a new refrigerated delivery van for our Milford facility.
Speaking of our Milford facility, we are in the midst of a Capital Campaign to raise funds to double the size of our Food Bank to meet the increased demand. We are incorporating “green technology” into the new addition to help control costs. Features like solar panels, rain water retention / reuse,a geothermal system and smart lighting will help us reduce costs to better serve more people in need. We have also installed a new baler in our Newark facility to recycle the tons of cardboard that we use, not only to help the environment, but to also earn income from the sale of the bales of cardboard. And we are about to implement an organic recycling program that will not only help reduce costs, but also because it is the “right thing to do.”
The Food Bank of Delaware is moving forward in its mission, while at the same time working to reduce costs and also benefit the environment. To learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware, please click here.