You work hard all day. But THEN you battle the traffic, endure the disparaging looks when you skid in the door at pickup time, and finally herd your kids in the door.
You negotiate the arguments about unpacking bags, finishing homework and having a shower… and then one of your children asks, “What’s for dinner?”
Feeding the family and getting dinner sorted night after night is a logistical challenge at best, and a nightmare the rest of the time. According to ABS data, Australian women spend around 1.75 hours every single day planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning up dinner for their families. Despite the fact that they ate yesterday, they’re going to want dinner again today.
Dinner on the Table is a Sydney based social enterprise that takes care of dinner logistics. Our family style meals are made from scratch, using real ingredients and no nasties. They’re cooked, cooled, packaged and delivered to your door requiring minimal preparation on your part to get your people fed.
Women everywhere are doing the daily juggle – but we don’t juggle on an even playing field. Women living with disability (who have a disability themselves or who care for a child or partner with a disability) often juggle with fewer resources and greater challenges. This is why profit from the sale of meals is used to gift dinners to these vulnerable women. To date we have gifted almost 1000 dinners, representing over 3000 adult portions and saving recipients 1586 dinner prep hours.
Saving our customers’ time meant shifting dinner logistics from individual homes to a central location: our kitchen. This created three main challenges for us. We turned to web-based solutions to solve our logistical challenges. Feeding the family – here’s how …
- Taking orders, delivery details and payments
This was straightforwardly solved using an online shop platform, Shopify. We quickly discovered, however, that the default online store is designed for businesses that use post or courier (think T-shirts in post packs). Few are designed to manage hand delivery of perishable items. We quickly added a bolt on app, Better Shipping, to manage shipping rates, and to restrict the geographical areas we offer service to.
- Enacting our social mission
Even more challenging was trying to explain to web developers that some of our customers would need to order for free – not discounted, not every so often, every week at no cost. Our model of support invites our gifted meal customers to order enough to feed themselves twice (whatever quantity that is, regardless of value) each and every week. “Selling” meals for free is counter-intuitive both for business and for online shop platform design.
On top of that, a double discount would apply to include delivery fees. With some jiggling, Shopify and Better Shipping again helped us out, to enable specific codes to be recognised as 100% discounts, and the establishment of what is effectively a free delivery “region” for our gifted meal customers (irrespective of geographical location).
- Constructing delivery routes that were nimble enough to allow changes
Two of us work on the administration side of Dinner on the Table. One is methodical, planned and knows what is going to happen when. The other leaves everything to the last second, always vowing to plan further ahead next time, but, let’s be honest, never actually achieving it. One of us campaigned for the advent of last minute Dinner on the Table deliveries.
Routific allows us to build delivery routes, optimised for time and distance efficiency. Recent developments in this app have allowed us to quickly redirect our delivery van, include last minute deliveries.
Dinner logistics are a familiar challenge to almost every woman who claims responsibility for another human being. We know (from personal experience!) that having a good dinner done for you changes your daily life. If women can centralise those logistics, imagine what we could achieve with the time we just saved?
Rachel Golding is the Founder and CEO of Dinner on the Table, and she wants to cook your dinner. Rachel is a recovering academic and former postdoctoral fellow researching family and disability. She believes that having a good dinner, done for you, will change your daily life. And together, we can transform the way our society cares for women made vulnerable by disability.
The Carousel would like to thank Rachel Golding – Founder and CEO Dinner on the Table for her article.