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Moving Food: Full Days, Full Vehicle, Full Fridges

If you are a friend of Piscataquis Regional Food Center, you are well acquainted with the tag line, "We Get Food Moving." But, honestly, it took being in the driver's seat--literally the driver's seat of a little white Ford Transit delivery van--for me to understand how. We move food on various scales, and I would like to attempt to explain it to you. Picture yourself now in the passenger seat of the little white Transit. Buckle up!

Kazia poses with a van layered full of boxed and bagged food.
The van was full for deliveries on Wednesday. I was overwhelmed and delighted!

One of the major things that PRFC does is to help move food from Good Shepherd Food Bank in Hampden to the far reaches of rural Piscataquis (and Penobscot!) county. A big Good Shepherd truck arrives every Monday at PRFC with pallets of food destined for the many small local food cupboards around our county. At this time, we serve 14 local pantries. We unload the truck, carefully store the food until delivery day, and then Rod delivers the food to each cupboard in our refrigerated box truck. Those individual cupboards break down the pallets of food into bags or boxes to hand out to members of their respective communities. This system improves the efficiency of the Good Shepherd deliveries and ultimately allows for more food to be distributed in this rural corner of the world.

Our box truck allows for the movement of large quantities of food, but our little Transit van allows for direct service. Let me tell you about my favorite, most stressful delivery days--I call them Venn Diagram days! These days involve many overlapping components. There is one week each month where I am loading up our little van to the max and delivering four different food sources door-to-door. I load up EAAA Commodity boxes, EAAA Furry Friends pet food and supplies, Sangerville Food Cupboard items, and FarmShare for Homebound Seniors orders from Stutzman's Farmstand (on Wednesdays) and Helios Farm (on Thursdays). You can read about each of these programs on our website, under "Programs and Services." You might even find a program that could help you, a family member, or a neighbor. I drive supplies to Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Sangerville, Monson, Shirley, Greenville.

Every month, I wonder if the van will contain the sheer volume of that week's delivery. Every month, it does (somehow). I am working on reframing my stress about this week into gratitude. Being able to interact directly with customers is really helpful for this. Almost all of our customers greet me at their door, welcome me into their homes, tell me about their day or week, their highs and lows. The pets for whom I am delivering rub against my ankles and demand attention. The fuller the van, the fuller the fridges of folks with limited mobility or transportation. Some customers get one box. Some customers receive multiple items. I use a spreadsheet, a clipboard, and sticky notes to remember who gets what. I talk to myself often while trying to remember each component. Eggs. Cheese. Veggies. This box. Cat food. Cat litter. That box. Smile. Gratitude.

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