Pro bono

SATOV helps the Learning Enrichment Foundation find a better way to provide meals for thousands of kids

Ky Swift
Analyst, SATOV Consultants

Everyone breathed a bit easier once we’d finally loaded the last of 1,000 meals onto the truck bound for daycares across Toronto. For the kitchen staff at the Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF) this was business as usual, but—with the clocking ticking well past 10 a.m.—we were 25 minutes behind schedule. It had been a race against that clock to get those hundreds of meals cooked and out the door and ultimately into the mouths of hungry daycare kids.

“Does this happen often?” I asked the head chef.

“Yes and no,” he joked. “We’re always tight on time, but today we had to deal with a couple of consultants getting in our way.”

Founded in 1978, LEF is one of Toronto’s top community economic development organizations. From its headquarters in the northwest of the city, 300 employees offer a wide variety of programs to more than 10,000 people. One of the most prominent of these programs is a childcare operation serving approximately 1,000 children.

Getting hot meals to that many children every weekday is a daunting task, and the two-hour production window would have given even Henry Ford logistical nightmares. Thankfully, LEF’s exceptional staff delivered as always. But the task is soon to become more difficult.

The agency recently expanded its daycare services by taking over six financially struggling childcare centres. Committed to producing high-quality, nutritious meals, LEF’s kitchen will soon need to produce 50% more of them, with limited capital and several competing programs vying for preparation space and equipment.

That’s where we come in. Each year SATOV offers its services pro bono to a non-profit who generates lasting socioeconomic change by empowering those in need. Last fall we partnered with Toronto social enterprise Furniture Bank, where we helped boost production capacity by 50%. Now we’re tackling LEF’s kitchen operations.

By strapping on their aprons, our team quickly identified the bottlenecks that were constraining throughput. We worked with management and kitchen staff to brainstorm solutions ranging from precooked meals to a larger production window. Our research and modelling revealed the trade-offs that LEF faced and ensured that any recipe for change wouldn’t overtax its limited resources.

The result: a plan that doubles meal production capacity with a capital investment that will be paid back within five years. The plan also allows LEF to remain true to its values by providing the same healthy food that kids love.

LEF’s board has approved our recommendation.

“We were faced with some very complex strategic decisions regarding our kitchen operations,” executive director Peter Frampton said. “SATOV’s pragmatic approach was crucial in helping our organization untangle the issues and have confidence in the proposed solution that we’re currently implementing. We can’t say enough about the great work they’ve done here.”

For our part, it’s been a privilege to make a meaningful difference with an incredible organization doing great work in our community. We also found it refreshing to work with a company whose business decisions optimize social outcomes.