Nonprofit organizations are facing many challenges during this pandemic, seeking to further their mission while adapting services, often on a tight budget despite increased demand.

That has certainly been the case for Meals on Wheels Collin County. That is why we are grateful for Toyota’s partnership and training. They helped us improve our operations so that we can better serve our clients during this crucial time.

Toyota’s Guiding Beacon

“Toyota is led by its core values of the Toyota Way, and its two pillars, Continuous Improvement and Respect for People,” says Hitomi Scott, Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) Manager.  Toyota shares its knowledge, known as the Toyota Production System, with other manufacturers, non-profits and community organizations enabling them to develop better ways of doing their day-to-day work. Through its work with TSSC, organizations find solutions that make them more productive, maximize available resources, or improve quality and safety.

Respect for People

When Toyota first relocated to Plano, they immediately got involved with Meals on Wheels Collin County. “As we realized the increasing number of seniors who need assistance, we decided this was a great project for our team,” Scott says.

Scott has become a true member of the Meals on Wheels family. She has volunteered hundreds of hours training Meals on Wheels Collin County staff on the Toyota Production System, leading kaizen (continuous improvement) projects, and delivering meals. Overall, she is a joy and delight to our staff.

Scott recently shared with us that helping deliver meals “made me realize how important the contact with the outside world is for homebound seniors. Handing out warm meals and asking them how they are doing may be the only contact with the outside world for some seniors.” It really is more than a meal. Other Toyota team members have jumped on board as well, and now they deliver meals along their adopted route every week.

We are so grateful for the Toyota team that has truly become a part of the Meals on Wheels family!

Continuous Improvement

The other pillar of The Toyota Way, which they taught to us, is the philosophy of continuous improvement (kaizen, in Japanese). The key to Toyota’s success has been through nonstop improvement of their processes and by eliminating waste to enhance efficiency and quality of services.

Toyota understands the importance of the Meals on Wheels mission in meeting the needs of local seniors, and they were excited to train us on the kaizen process, resulting in our increased capacity to serve more clients. This training has proven vital.

Thanks to Toyota’s training and support, Meals on Wheels Collin County has been able to:

  • Reorganize our warehouse to make it more volunteer-friendly and efficient.
  • Decrease our raw food cost by 25%, saving the agency $168,000 per year.
  • Reorganize the food production line, making it more efficient and better utilizing staff.
  • Improve temperature retention of food, exceeding food safety standards.
  • Create a new outcomes measurement tool to better understand client needs.

These efficiencies and cost-savings allowed us to completely eliminate our waitlist! This also means that even more of your donation goes straight toward our mission.

The combined efforts of these projects have saved us more than $300,000, which equates to an additional 60,000 meals we are able to provide.

Photo taken prior to COVID-19

The Kaizen Philosophy and COVID-19

In early 2020, almost overnight, everything changed. Society all but shut down in the face of an unknown, unseen enemy: COVID-19.

This challenge has forced virtually every company and organization to change its operations, adapting to the unsafe environment and altering service provision to support those at greatest risk. This has been especially true for Meals on Wheels Collin County, which serves a high-risk clientele.

We believe that the Toyota partnership helped prepare and equip us to handle these challenges.

  • The cost-savings gained help stretch your dollars even further.
  • The efficiencies and structures we put in place to eliminate the waiting list meant we were ready for the growing demand for services.
  • Most importantly, the Toyota Production System (TPS) tools we gained enabled us to think creatively in adapting our services and continue improving them throughout the pandemic.

On the behalf of all our seniors and from the depths of our hearts, thank you Toyota for your investment in Meals on Wheels Collin County! In the spirit of kaizen, we will never stop improving, better stewarding the community’s investment in us and providing increased value and services to local seniors!

That is the Toyota Way, and now it has become the Meals on Wheels way.