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The VCU Department of Supply Chain Management and Analytics (SCMA) has embarked on its most complex project to date – a pilot program designed to ensure food security in Charles City, which can then be replicated statewide. Sharing expertise with VCU Life Sciences and VCU Health students, SCMA is utilizing a multi-disciplined approach for success.

This project, the culmination of a community mission, is spearheaded by David Berdish, executive-in-residence for SCMA. His goal is to provide experiential learning opportunities for students which enable them to see the tangible benefits of supply chain management decisions.

“The sponsoring organization also benefits in that it receives recommendations from the student teams that lead to solutions that may not have been considered,” he says. “Faculty also are provided benefits, as many of these student-company projects open the door for more advanced research.”

The Charles City food security project has been divided into five phases:

Phase I
– Support operations for the Promise Land Storehouse 
– Help Executive Director with facility layout, inventory management and receipt and distribution of food

Phase II
– Partner with VCU Life Sciences to better understand the organic garden
– Study garden as a food source for the Storehouse and as a teaching center for citizens who want to grow their own produce

Phase III
-Partner with VCU College of Engineering and VCU Life Sciences to design a solar-powered modular structure to store food
-Plan the warehouse layout and associated utilization by small farmers

Phase IV
– Plan and set up a farmer’s market to sell healthy food

Phase V
– Design and implement a mobile kitchen

This ambitious project had its roots in work begun during 2019, when SCMA Strategic Sourcingstudents began studying The Market @ 25th grocery store in Richmond’s Church Hill. They focused on the sourcing, purchasing and inventory management practices of the store. Then, Logistics and Distribution students helped design the routing and delivery schedules.

“As a whole,” says Berdish, “these projects demonstrate how a project-focused course can benefit the parties involved, as well as potentially impacting the community as a whole.”


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