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Case Study: Second Harvest Community Food Bank

Hillshire Brands LogoSecond Harvest Community Food Bank’s new Executive Director Chad Higdon and his dedicated staff wanted to improve their operational processes at the food bank. Higdon and his team took advantage of an opportunity offered to them by Hillshire Brands to work with experts during a one-day session to help them identify solutions to three operational challenges in finance, safety, and inventory management.

Tom Hayes, chief supply chain officer for Hillshire Brands, led a team of Hillshire professionals to help identify solutions for each of Second Harvest’s selected needs. Experts in each functional area led 90-minute sessions, working to understand the underlying challenge that the food bank faced. Second Harvest walked away from the session with three well-defined work plans that provided them with recommendations for a clear step forward in each of the three challenge areas.

“The diagnostic session was everything we could have asked for. It was very encouraging to see the teams from Hillshire as interested and invested in our organization as they were,” Higdon said.

Higdon realized that they needed to do a better job managing cash flow for their organization. The team had a second opportunity to turn to Hillshire Brands and its financial experts to help them create a financial model that allowed them to more effectively understand their cash position.

Alex Sabo, Finance Director, selected a team with deep financial expertise from across the Hillshire organization. He worked to include team members with deep Excel coding knowledge, strong project managers, and even a member with experience running a small start-up. Each team member’s unique expertise contributed to the creation of a financial model that helped Second Harvest more accurately predict its cash flow.

“Using guidance from Taproot Foundation and our Corporate Contributions department, I knew what levels of experience to look for. I reached out beyond my own team to find team members with the right complementary skills for this role, after reviewing the initial project plan from their Hillshire Diagnostic Session. Team members were excited from the start because they saw it was a great way to give back and expand their impact zone outside of finance and the company,” Sabo said.

The team worked to develop a draft financial model from materials that Second Harvest provided in advance of their one-day session. Using Hillshire Excel-based financial models as a base, the team worked to customize the model to the needs of a food bank.  During the working session, they explained how the tool would meet the food bank’s needs and obtained their approval. The Second Harvest team had the chance to provide significant feedback on how the model could be modified to meet their evolving needs.

“The team helped us navigate through the tools they created to make sure it was a good fit. They explained it in detail and talked to us about implementation,” Higdon said.

The team also worked to ensure that the financial model would be usable for Second Harvest long term. They removed complicated formulas and documented the intent of each line of the workbook. The team went through each tool line by line to customize it, teach how it works, and ensure that the end product would meet the food bank’s needs.


The Second Harvest team put the work to use immediately. They are using the financial model to track their daily cash flow needs.

“Our finance lead has put our daily transaction model and quarterly tracker to good use already.  We know where the business is at all points in time and we have a process in place because of this plan from Hillshire.  As we passed a new budget for the current fiscal year in June, we used information gathered from the models that were implemented to provide our board of directors with a sense of cash flow for the organization heading into the new fiscal year.  We are already seeing the results of this exercise benefitting the organization, and we are very optimistic about how this process will transform our organizational cash flow analysis moving forward,” said Higdon.

Posted by Aaron Smullin, director of marketing - Monday, 07/21/14, 11:34 AM - Comments - Category: Miscellaneous

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