Shifting 100 T of food a day is no mean feat for Foodbank Queensland

Nathan Gregory -
Forklift Diaries
- 27 Apr 2023 ( #1125 )
3 min read
Some days at Foodbank Queensland have seen receivals of up to 100 T.
Some days at Foodbank Queensland have seen receivals of up to 100 T.

For Nathan Gregory, Warehouse & Transport Manager at Foodbank Queensland, every day holds a new challenge. With the Foodbank processing on average 100 T of food per day, it’s important to keep his team together and engaged in what they do.

I started my operations career in the events and exhibition industry. That is a very high-paced environment, with a massive reliance on materials handling equipment. We relied upon a variety of machinery included telehandlers, all-terrain forklifts, counterbalance forklifts and boom lifts. 

COVID caused issues within the industry and an opening became available to join the Foodbank team, giving me a great opportunity to learn within a new industry. 

Foodbank Queensland has 18 operational staff and a fleet of eight reach trucks, a mixture of Toyota and Linde machines. Our storage capacity is approximately 1,200 pallet spaces - made up of chilled, frozen and ambient warehousing. 

Foodbank processes on average 100 T of food per day – 50 T in and 50 T out. 

Foodbank Queensland supplies a variety of food essentials to support Queenslanders in need. We distribute any product that you would typically find in a retail supermarket. Almost 40% of all the groceries we provide each year are healthy fresh fruit and vegetables donated by generous growers and retailers across our state.

We distribute any product that you would typically find in a retail supermarket. Almost 40% of all the groceries we provide each year are healthy fresh fruit and vegetables.
We distribute any product that you would typically find in a retail supermarket. Almost 40% of all the groceries we provide each year are healthy fresh fruit and vegetables.

Our biggest challenge is managing the “surprise chain” of donations. With 95% of all food arriving at Foodbank being donated goods, we often don’t know what we are going to receive until the day of arrival, providing a challenge for our operations and distribution teams. 

On top of this, a lot of the product we receive is short on shelf life, so fast distribution is very important. 

We often work through peak periods and situations where we must increase our output. Some days have seen receivals of up to 100 T. 

Food rescue/supply information taken from FY22 Annual Report
Food rescue/supply information taken from FY22 Annual Report

I think teamwork is most important when we’re busy: having everyone pitch in and contribute is a must. 

We must also maintain a healthy fleet of forklifts, so having our machines regularly serviced and in perfect condition is important. Breakdowns during busy periods can cause significant delays. 

It costs us AUD75,000 per year for repairs and maintenance of our forklifts. As a charity, we need to fundraise to cover these costs. 

Safety is a major part of our day at Foodbank. In such a high-paced environment with so many people and forklifts in our Food Distribution Centre, it is critical everyone has safety at the front of their minds. It’s also important to keep our team together and engaged in what we do. 

Regular toolbox talks with the team and communication from management is important to pass on information and keep staff updated on performance. And most importantly, we like to have a bit of fun while at work!

The most rewarding part of the role is working within a team that works hard to provide food for people in need. We work closely with our 350 Member Charities to distribute food to help struggling Queenslanders put food on the table. 

How can you help? Foodbank is actively seeking new donors and funding for its fleet of forklifts to keep operating. Please get in touch with Nathan to find out how you can support people in need. 

Do you work in or around forklifts? The Forklift Diaries would love to hear your story! Submit it here, or feel free to post your story in our NEWS & PERSPECTIVES forum.

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