UTPA Report: Business majors helping the RGV Food Bank


POSTED: Friday, May 24, 2013 - 12:52pm

UPDATED: Saturday, May 25, 2013 - 11:58am

The Rio Grande Valley Food Bank is looking forward to smoother operations and serving more families in need thanks to a plan put together by a group of business management majors from The University of Texas-Pan American. Sandra Quintanilla tells us more in this UTPA report.

These canned goods and other packaged foods go toward feeding the thousands of South Texas residents who can't afford to buy groceries for their families. But maintaining daily tasks and keeping up with the increasing number of people to serve can be challenging for The Rio Grande Valley Food Bank. While the non-profit organization is grateful for its donors, it counts heavily on its small staff and volunteers to meet the needs of the community. However retaining them hasn't been easy, so RGV food bank administrators turned to these UTPA students for help. They asked the business majors to develop written procedures they hope will improve operations. The team of five presented its final project to staff members who say they couldn't be happier with the results.

Cindy Villarreal, Food Bank Manager of Volunteer and Donor Services, "It's going to help us bridge some gaps that we have and allow us to be more efficient and effective in our delivery both internal and external because we deal with customer service issues as well. But internal and external, so a lot of like I said far reaching effects this project will have for us."

The business undergraduates took up the food bank project as part of their Business Consulting Practicum Course. It consisted of developing a Standard Operating Procedures manual for the non-profit's Volunteer and Donor Services. The department struggled with a high turnover and because it did not have written Standard Operating Procedures in place, the transition to hire and keep new employees was difficult. But by creating this document, the students hope the company will operate more efficiently and effectively and be able to concentrate on their mission of reducing hunger in the Valley.

Marco Leal, UTPA Business Management Major, "It feels really good actually to see that we're helping out a company that goes out and helps the community. We may not have gone out and done something ourselves for the community but in a way what we do here will trickle down and hopefully help the business help, run a lot smoother and in that way it feels really good. It's humbling to help out such a great company."

Course instructor, Jody Nelsen, former university business operations administrator herself and wife of UTPA President Robert Nelsen says this project provided the students with invaluable experience she hopes they will use when they graduate and start their careers.

Jody Nelsen, Business Consulting Practicum Course Instructor, "I hope that they learned something that they can take and use in the jobs that they have after they graduate. That they've learned that you really do need standard operating procedures into be in order to be efficient. I think also I hope that they've learned good communication skills, communicating with the people that they're working with and presentation skills in having to do a presentation. They've also had to work on their writing skills."

I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.

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