When the pandemic hit, the business model of The Outreach Program immediately broke. The model of engaging large numbers of volunteers together to package meals for the hungry was suddenly forbidden by the government.
In one day, the 16-year-old method of creating more than 600 million meals for the hungry vanished. In one fell swoop, business as usual was no longer possible.
So, what did our founder, Floyd Hammer, suggest?
Order as many ingredients as we could and fill not only our 32,000 square foot warehouse in Des Moines, but maybe lease buildings next door and fill them, too.
Wait, what? The only way for the last 16 years to pack those ingredients was to use volunteers in large gatherings and we no longer could do that because of the shutdown.
Some folks wondered, “What was he thinking?”
That’s the wrong question. I’ve been around him long enough to know that was the wrong question. The right question was this, “What was he seeing?” This is the same guy that started the first plastics recycling plant in America, then owned several around the world. What did he see back decades ago to cause him to start such business that led a revolution to reduce, recycle and reuse?
This is the same guy that, in 2012, saw a need to create new varieties of meals that were pleasing to the palate of Americans. The bland rice and veggie meals that Outreach had been packaging were suitable to send internationally because people put their own spices and meat in them.
However, they weren’t well received in food banks in America. Floyd, and his wife, Kathy, discovered there was hunger in America, so they reached out to Iowa State University’s Food Science and Human Nutrition Department to collaborate on nutrient-dense, shelf-stable, protein-rich, easily prepared meals. Outreach now has nine varieties.
It turns out, once again, Floyd’s vision was spot on. Since the pandemic, we have found a way to package tens of millions of meals in the last six months.
Solomon said that without vision, people perish. The reverse of that is true; with vision, people flourish.
Whom do you know that sees the curve before it comes? Who are the scouts you trust to lead you to unchartered territory? In your sphere of influence, who are the people who have vision? Those are the people I sidle up beside.
With vision, people flourish.