Optimization of the Pack-Out Process for Meal Delivery

The Client

Meals on Wheels for Western New York logo

Since its founding in 1969, the Meals on Wheels for WNY mission has been focused on the most basic, most critical of home needs. Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers are committed to enriching lives and promoting independent healthy living by offering nutritious food and a friendly visit. Our vision is to ensure that every member of our community will receive a meal that meets their nutritional needs.

The Problem

Meals on Wheels delivery routes change daily, so the counts for which types of meals are required (as well as the number of overall meals) fluctuate. For food safety reasons, there can be a maximum of a two-hour window between when a meal is plated and when it is delivered. After a hot meal is sealed at the end of the assembly line, it is checked against a list – sorting the meals against different routes and sites by the recipients’ addresses. All of this made the process quite complex, which meant there was room for the Pro Bono Analytics team to work on optimization.

A young blonde woman in a red sweater waves to an elderly woman in her doorway.

The Approach

The team focused on the checklist with the idea that it could be better organized and contain more appropriate information to enable a simpler, faster, more accurate process. Data analysis conducted over the mid-portion of the semester enabled the team to create new lists for consideration by the leadership of Meals on Wheels for WNY.

The Solution

The new checklist, containing more detailed meal-type information and organized by order of delivery rather than an alphabetized list of addresses, enables staff and volunteers to ensure clients will get the food deliveries they need while saving valuable time for Meals on Wheels WNY.

Project at a Glance


Early 2017

# of Volunteers on Project


Problem Type

Process Improvement


Food Delivery


Buffalo, NY

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