Enabling Food Deliveries

The availability of food has had a major impact on how urban areas have developed. In the early days of our country, cities tended to grow vertically because they needed an agricultural green belt surrounding the city. This was prior to the invention of refrigeration. Once refrigeration became widely available, food production could be more distant from cities. Thus cities could grow outward and suburbs started to develop. But then another problem developed. How do you transport food from greater distances without it becoming spoiled? The answer was provided by Frederick Jones.

Jones was born into a biracial relationship. Neither parents wanted him, and he was orphaned as a young child. He was raised initially in a Catholic rectory but left at the age of 11. He never went past the sixth grade.

At the age of 14, Jones became an automobile mechanic and found that he had a natural mechanical ability. He also became an avid reader to increase his mechanical knowledge. Jones served in World War I, and when he returned to his work as a mechanic he taught himself electronics.

With Jones’ expanding knowledge of technology, he started a career as an inventor. His most important invention was an approach to cool the trucks so that they could transport food and keep it from spoiling. Using earnings from prior inventions, he formed a company now called Thermo King Corp. Today Thermo King is the global leader in mobile refrigeration.

During World War II, transportable cooling capacity was critical to the war effort. Jones’ cooling technologies were used to transport blood, medicine, and food to soldiers at the front line.

Frederick Jones was the first African-American to be awarded the National Medal of Technology. The technology he created has been one of those quiet but most influential tools for shaping our society. Today the food we buy at a store travels on average 1,200 miles.

Just imagine the influence a person who had no more than a sixth-grade education has had on all of us. Think about how much a person who was abandoned as a child has achieved in his life. How might his life story be used to inspire others who have life struggles?

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            “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”  – Alexander Graham Bell

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