Brief Summary of the Main Issues
The article “There for the Picking” (Sonmez et al., 2016) addresses the issue of supply chain management. It is defined as “the practice of getting the right thing to the right place at the right time” (Sonmez et al., 2016, 27). The authors focus on the importance of delivering food where necessary because as of 2014, more than 14 percent of the American population did not have a trustworthy food provider. At the same time, about thirty percent of agricultural production is wasted every year in America (Sonmez et al., 2016, 27). Some hunger relief agencies attempted to combine the issues of food insecurity and product waste.
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Moreover, scholars joined this partnership of food banks and gleaners to introduce some analytical instruments to support their volunteer attempts. The researchers created a company that included the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, the Boston Area Gleaners, and scientists engaged in the operations management or sustainable food systems (Sonmez et al., 2016). The company created a model of stochastic optimization for gleaning activity provided by volunteers. The focus of the research is on the Food Bank activity. The creation of “hunger-free communities” was among the objectives of bank activity (Sonmez et al., 2016, 28).
The purpose of model development was the optimization of gleaning to increase the volume of gathered food. The research revealed that a set schedule of gleaning activities provides the growth of the collected food at first. Nevertheless, this growth is not stable since both the donations and volunteers’ availability are uncertain. Moreover, the system of informing volunteers on gleaning possibilities is not perfect. During the investigation, volunteers were informed by email. Nevertheless, in this case, this initiative continues development, a more efficient system will be necessary. A curious finding of the research is that even with the growth of volunteers by 33 percent the increase in gleaning apples was only between 10 and 20 percent (Sonmez et al., 2016, 30). Moreover, the same decrease in the number of volunteers resulted in smaller losses (from 18 to 27 percent) of apple gleaning (Sonmez et al., 2016, 30).
Analysis of the Situation and Actions
The article analyses the problem of sustainable food supply within the agricultural industry of the United States. In such conditions, there is a problem of lost crops. It happens due to the use of machines to collect crops or the inability of farmers to harvest without losses. Thus, some activities are necessary to prevent this situation and use all crops grown. Gleaning with the involvement of volunteers is suggested as one of the possible activities to reduce the loss of crops and increase the volume of gathered products. The situation when farms do not harvest about 6-7 percent of their crops is considered unacceptable by hunger-relief companies (Sonmez et al., 2016, 27).
Thus, they initiate volunteer activities aimed at the improvement of such a situation. Many farmers are ready to donate their leftover crops to gleaning organizations. These crops can be taken to hunger relief agencies to be distributed among the people in need. The only problem is the harvesting and transportation which have to be paid. In this case, gleaning organizations by themselves cannot cope with the situation. They need some analytical instruments and financial support which can be provided in cooperation with a bank. Thus, banks and gleaning organization unions can solve the issues with mutual efforts.
Then example of a partnership in the research proves the efficiency of such initiatives. The cooperation of a bank with gleaning organizations managed to attract more volunteers to gleaning and thus increase the volume of gathered crops. However, this model cannot be a part of a supply chain due to some reasons. First of all, gleaning companies are not guaranteed with donations. It is the choice of farmers either to donate or not. Secondly, volunteers as a workforce are uncertain as well. Their participation is difficult to predict. Moreover, the effectiveness of volunteers in gleaning is still not justified. Thus, the increase in the number of volunteers does not necessarily result in the growth of crops gleaned (Sonmez et al., 2016).
The way-out for gleaning organizations is to include farms that are eager to donate into their network. The farmers can be interested in such cooperation because they will not need to worry about the lost crops. Also, a database of volunteers can be created. It can save time when a group of people is needed. Still, it does not guarantee the sustainability of this supply chain.
On the whole, a cooperative approach to harvesting extra crops can contribute to the development of the supply chain and its sustainability. It is a way-out for the agricultural industry of the United States and a valuable contribution to the national nutrition program. The stochastic optimization approach suggested in the article provides a model that can be applied for supply chain management in the agricultural industry of the United States. It is a profitable initiative since it involves a volunteer workforce, contributes to the increase of food security, and helps to provide the people in need with food.
Sonmez, E., Lee, D., Gomez, M., Fan, X., Caldwell, L., Thompson, N.R., & Knoeles, M. (2016). There for the picking. Industrial and Science Engineering at Work, 48(8), 26-30. Web.