While it’s usually our customers and KEP who benefit from our regular Kaizen events, one of these continuous improvement events that we recently participated in looked a bit different. We actually had the opportunity to partner with the Ben Curtis Family Foundation who serves the food insecurity needs of children in NINE local Northeast Ohio school districts!

Who Needed Our Help:

The Ben Curtis Family Foundation (BCFF)

Kaizen Participants:

Process Owner – Candace Curtis, BCFF Owner/Founder

Facilitator – John Danes, VP of Operations at KEP

Team – Bryan Hastings (KEP), Willie Nelson (KEP), Michael Stecyk (KEP), Clarissa Fashbaugh (KEP) and Sara Beatty (BCFF)


BCFF is a growing non-profit in Stark, Portage and Summit counties. BCFF uses a warehouse to store nonperishables and pack donations of food and toiletries. These donations, known as Birdie Bags, are then distributed to local children in need throughout the school year.

The Problem:

Ben Curtis Family Foundation grew from serving two to nine school districts, but are still operating from the same warehouse facility. There are concerns that they would need to find or build a new location to continue their philanthropic efforts.

Current Process

  1. Obtain the number of children in need in each school district
  2. Order food and toiletries from various locations
  3. Receive and inventory items
  4. Rotate stock to account for expiration dates
  5. Pack the needed number of Birdie Bags with 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners, 6 snacks and toiletries
  6. Allocate the bags to the appropriate districts

Goals We Identified:

  • Reduce / simplify the inventory system
  • Increase warehouse space and determine room for growth
  • Create procedures for all processes
  • Eliminate waste

Actions Taken:

  • Removed materials left behind by the previous building tenant to provide more storage space.
  • Added two level racking system for pallets, doubling storage capacity. Before food was received in the packing room, then moved to a storage room, and finally moved back to the packing room when needed. Now food is received and stored in the packing room.
  • Added more useful tables, bag dispensers, and counting systems.
  • Eliminated steps from the storage bin allocation system, significantly reducing the number of material handling steps during setup and during pack.
  • Rebuilt the inventory system to make it easier to use and understand, more automated to reduce data entry and keep real time inventory of product in house and on order.

Savings Summary:

  • Approx. $400 / month for ziplock bags
  • Labor for stacking and restacking food items multiple times
  • Labor for restocking during a pack
  • Time / labor making “sub-assemblies” for pack
  • Time / labor pre-counting bags for pack
  • More than doubled storage area

Future Recommendations/Actions:

  • Purchase or rent walk behind tow motor
  • 90 day follow up to regroup and make any needed changes


Lean manufacturing processes are valuable for more than just manufacturing, and this Kaizen is a testament to that! This week-long Kaizen event helped Ben Curtis Family Foundation make better use of their space, enabling them to grow and expand in their current facility and skip the warehouse move.

We are so proud to have put our experience to use for this local nonprofit that works so hard to do so much good!

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