Toronto Real Food for Real Kids Teams Use GQueues and Google Apps to Help Track Tasks and Manage Collaborative Projects
Real Food for Real Kids (RFRK), founded in 2004, caters fresh, nutritious meals and snacks to childcare centers, elementary schools and camps throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Over the last 12 years the social enterprise has grown to a team of over a 100 who plan, prepare, deliver and serve nutritious food to 15,000 kids daily. RFRK has produced close to 43 million meals to date and have won multiple awards for their commitment to providing high quality food to kids in the most sustainable ways possible.
Growing and Getting Organized
In 2004, RFRK's founder, Lulu Cohen-Farnell, was searching for child care for her son and noticed a trend among even the best daycare centers in Toronto: their menus were chock full of highly processed ingredients, with limited servings of real foods. Inspired by her holistic upbringing in France, Cohen-Farnell became motivated to reclaim North American food culture and decided to turn her passion into a business. Cohen-Farnell explained that she started out serving healthy snacks for her son and other children at the YMCA daycare and from there, RFRK began to flourish. Lulu's husband, David Farnell joined Lulu in her initiative and very soon after a small team was formed and continued to grow as the company expanded.
They initially stayed organized using email communication, but as the company expanded and became more complex, they needed a better way of tracking tasks and managing collaborative projects. Cohen-Farnell explained, "sometimes staff would put an assignment on my calendar and I wouldn't see it until it was time to give it back to them; it was not an ideal situation." In 2014, the team began their quest for a task management program that would meet their needs. The first one they tested wasn't a good fit. "It wasn't enough; we couldn't work and collaborate between teams," recounted Cohen-Farnell. The next on their list was GQueues. Cohen-Farnell recalled that she fell in love with it right away because it allowed her to keep everything in front of her and allowed her to keep track of tasks, manage her time in a more efficient way and allow for better communication with departments.
Collaborating and Tracking To-Dos
The work of RFRK is complex and to remain competitive their services must be affordable. Cohen-Farnell is committed to finding efficiencies without cutting corners. She and the RFRK team rely on GQueues as their go-to tool for managing to-do lists, both in the office and on the go. Office Administrator, Claire Kryczka, described GQueues as "the highest functional to-do list I can imagine." She explained that her job is comprised of many small tasks that get assigned to her throughout the day and GQueues lets her quickly take note of them so nothing is forgotten. Steve Purificati, Manager of Clients & Services, added, "rather than working off Post-It notes or notebooks, they all go in one place and it makes it easier to track my progress." The mobile app is a valuable tool for staying organized, according to Cohen-Farnell. She explained that when she's away from the office and doesn't have access to her computer, she checks GQueues regularly on her cell phone. Other team members, such as Design & Communications Coordinator, Kaelan Karjalainen, also use GQueues for iOS on a daily basis. "I love keeping track of my personal and professional to-do list in such an organized manner," she noted.
Cohen-Farnell explained that each of the six departments at RFRK share their own set of queues, which helps them focus on their respective projects. Team members communicate about their progress and assign tasks to one another in their shared queues. Reminders also help the teams work in shared queues more efficiently. If someone needs Cohen-Farnell to review or approve a document, her Executive Assistant Lily, assigns it to her, creates a task time to execute the work and sets a reminder via the Google Calendar Integration. "'GQ' has become a verb at RFRK," Cohen-Farnell revealed. "In my world, if it's not GQ'd, it basically doesn't exist and gets forgotten." Clients & Services Representative, Jenna Hunter, explained that reminders are one of the best parts of GQueues. "They help me stay on the ball with things that need action to be taken weeks or months away," she noted. According to Service Team Lead, Cindy Macmillan, GQueues reminders "get things off my mind and my plate, knowing that I won't forget about them later."
Founder & Chief Food Innovation Officer
All departments at RFRK use Gmail and Google Calendar, and all documents are on Google Drive, shareable and easy to use. If someone assigns a task to Cohen-Farnell or another team member, they attach any accompanying files from Google Drive and everything is in one place. The teams also use the GQueues for Gmail Chrome Extension to attach emails to tasks. According to Michelle Thom, Talent & Training Coordinator at RFRK, "one of the best parts of GQueues is the ability to attach an email to a task so information isn't lost." The seamless integration between GQueues and Google Apps supports two objectives that are incredibly important to RFRK: working efficiently and keeping everything in one place.
According to Cohen-Farnell, one of the biggest benefits is that "GQueues helps me provide my employees with what they need, when they need it." She explained that it feels great to check things off when they're done and know that she's getting people what they need to do their jobs. GQueues helps her stay on top of her schedule and know what she needs to deliver both internally and externally. It helps her focus on what she needs to do in the moment and prepare ahead of time for things down the road.
From planning monthly menus and tracking food allergies, to coordinating daily delivery and pick-up of materials, GQueues reminders and collaborative features help ensure that nothing is missed at RFRK, according to Cohen-Farnell. GQueues is now part of their training when they on-board new team members. Cohen-Farnell believes that GQueues can enhance the way people work by improving communication, increasing efficiency and reducing stress. Her goal is to train employees to keep everything in GQueues so they never miss tasks or deadlines. She highly recommends GQueues to everyone, but especially those who are busy. "If you have a lot going on, GQueues is a helpful tool that brings down your level of stress. You don't worry if something's being forgotten and you feel on top of things."