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ASU study helps food rescue efforts in Phoenix


April 02, 2009

Can tourism help eliminate hunger?

That's the hope of Waste Not Arizona, a nonprofit organization that has been working with local resorts to supply their unused food to the hungry in the Phoenix area. A recent research study by MBA students from Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business has been helping the organization increase its impact.

The study, part of a class taught by ASU associate professor Elliot Rabinovich, examined the supply chain processes leading from Phoenix-area tourist resorts to a network of local groups that feed the hungry. The study was a collaborative effort between the Megapolitan Tourism Research Center in the College of Public Programs and the Center for Services Leadership at the W. P. Carey School of Business. W. P. Carey MBA students Ross Cain, Xicheng Zhou and McCall Baldwin wrote the report.

Waste Not Arizona has a fleet of four refrigerated trucks that run in the Valley six days per week, picking up food from donors and delivering to several organizations that feed the hungry. The study focused on the organizational structure, current supply chain processes, the pros and cons of different initiatives within Waste Not Arizona's network, and ways to maximize how the organization carries out its daily activities.

"The ASU supply chain analysis completed for the logistics side of Waste Not was invaluable," said Dee Mitten, executive director of Waste Not Arizona. "The caliber of analysis and suggestions for improvement were well-thought out, realistic and attainable. We tremendously value and appreciate the commitment of time, energy and enthusiasm devoted to this project."

Dr. Timothy Tyrrell, director of the Megapolitan Tourism Research Center, initiated the project that led to the study.

"The tourism industry gives much more than jobs and tax revenues back to the community," Tyrrell said. "Tourism contributes to a wide range of economic and social qualities of life for local residents. This study is a great example of how the university can help tourism do an even better job of serving the public good."

Dr. Rabinovich, who supervised the course, said the project was also beneficial for the students who took a hands-on approach and were engaged in learning from Waste Not Arizona's operations.

"For the students, this was an educational experience, as well," Rabinovich said. "They were exposed to an area of the economy they rarely get to see as part of their MBA curriculum."

For information about the Megapolitan Tourism Research Center, visit http://mtrc.asu.edu. To learn about the W. P. Carey School of Business, visit http://wpcarey.asu.edu.