7-Eleven Gets ’Fresh’

7-Eleven Inc. gets “fresh” with customers with the opening of the company’s environmentally in-tune Commissary and Combined Distribution Center (CDC) in Bohemia, N.Y. At the new mixed-use facility, unveiled in a ceremony yesterday, fresh foods will be prepared and delivered to 674 7-Eleven stores in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The 130,000-square-foot facility is operated by Norris Food Services in compliance with Department of Homeland Security and Department of Agriculture food standards. More than 250 Long Islanders are employed at the integrated distribution center and commissary kitchen, where daily activities include the creation of a wide variety of fresh foods delivered each day to local 7-Eleven stores.

“The building of the new commissary and CDC demonstrates 7-Eleven’s approach to providing a broad selection of fresh, high-quality foods in an environment that will conserve energy, water usage and utility costs,” said Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven president and CEO.

Food-processing areas were constructed with thick polymer concrete toppings and contain anti-microbial agents that won’t crack or shear off on the floor. Light fixtures can be changed from outside the room to reduce breakage and eliminate potential room contamination.

Because the site did not have access to a municipal sanitary sewer system, 7-Eleven invested in a gas-energy mixing system to treat the water before discharging it.

“7-Eleven and Norris Food Services began planning this new complex two years ago with an agreement to build an environmentally sensitive and secure plant,” said Dennis Phelps, vice president of fresh foods at 7-Eleven. “We are able to meet customers’ fresh-food quality needs and minimize the local environmental impact.”

Food Sales Strong
Despite the economic downturn, the opening of Long Island’s new fresh foods and logistics center provides hundreds of new jobs to area residents.

William J. Norris, owner of the CDC and commissary, is a veteran convenience food professional, who has grown his business into a leading Long Island company over the past two decades.

“We partnered with 7-Eleven because it’s a disciplined organization and its management team understands the importance of ensuring the highest-quality and the best possible eating experience for their customers,” Norris said.

Sandwiches, salads, entrees and other fresh foods are prepared in the commissary’s 72,000-square-foot kitchen that adheres to quality standards that meet or surpass USDA regulations.

An on-site USDA office and visiting inspector ensure safe food-handling practices, and all must follow Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point procedures established collaboratively by the quality assurance departments of 7-Eleven, the commissary kitchen, bakery and other third-party suppliers supporting and working with the food preparation and delivery company.

The new facility is less than a mile away from the one-year-old Glenn Wayne Bakery, which serves 7-Eleven stores in the New York City area.

How It Works
Through sophisticated inventory and computerized ordering systems, 7-Eleven store operators place their orders by 10 a.m. each day for deliveries that begin the very same day. The computer system quickly consolidates these orders and transmits them to the CDCs, commissaries and bakeries that support 7-Eleven stores across the U.S.

Upon receipt of the stores’ orders, 7-Eleven sandwiches, salads and baked goods are prepared fresh that same day, adhering to 7-Eleven’s proprietary recipes and strict specifications.

Fresh food products are immediately stamped with the time and date after they are made. Other perishable and time-sensitive products are delivered throughout the day, to be sorted for that night’s delivery. Trucks are then dispatched to deliver each store’s merchandise between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. the next day.

To ensure quality, the CDC facility follows strict product-handling and temperature standards. Products brought to the CDC are continually maintained at prescribed temperatures throughout food preparation, sorting and transportation cycles. The CDC also ensures the highest food quality by shipping from temperature-controlled docks. Delivery vehicles are equipped to control two temperature zones–operating both a refrigerated compartment maintained at 38 degrees and a dry compartment held at 70 degrees–assuring food safety, regardless of the season.

7-Eleven instituted the daily delivery of fresh foods, bakery items and other perishable products to its nationwide network of stores in 1994. Today, more than 5,600 7-Eleven stores across the U.S. and Canada now offer customers fresh and safe products through this intricate preparation and distribution system.

“The opening of this sophisticated distribution system represents an expansion of 7-Eleven’s and Norris Food Services’ vision to provide high-quality foods prepared in a safe and earth-friendly environment,” Norris said.

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