The Piscataquis Regional Food Center has a brand new parking lot!
After years of bumping, jerking, and weaving around a maze of potholes, we are joyfully celebrating the completion of our crisp, smooth asphalt upgrade. After several weeks of preparation, the pavement is down and has cured. It looks great! If you are familiar with the "before" state of the lot, you know that this improvement was necessary.
Why are we so excited? It's because this is so much more than a parking lot! It's also our "welcome" mat. It's the road for charitable food to travel in and go out to people all around. It's the stage on which many free food distributions occur! Based on internal record-keeping, it's estimated that we receive about 50 full truckloads of food, 100 deliveries of donated bread, and do about 300 outbound deliveries per year at the PRFC Building. In addition, drive-through style food distributions for the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard and the Eastern Area on Aging Commodity Supplemental Food Program bring a combined ~3,500 car trips per year into the parking lot. That's a lot of traffic!
"When we started telling people we acquired the former Agway property, the first thing people said was not 'That's great! Congratulations!' Instead, it was 'wow, that’s a horrible parking lot,'" said PRFC Operations Manager Steve Grammont. "And not just people from the local area either! Nobody can remember a time when it wasn’t totally awful, and that’s going back 40+ years for some people!"
PRFC purchased the former Agway building in 2016 and began operating out of the space in 2017. Every rainfall gave rise to huge expanses of water that were more like vernal ponds than puddles. "The local wildlife sure thought they were ponds!", said Erin Callaway, PRFC's Executive Director. "We won't miss them, but the animals definitely will." On drier days the lot was alternately dusty and muddy--an unpleasant mess all around.
That opportunity for the parking lot upgrade was made possible through funding from Good Shepherd Food Bank.
Steve explained the overall value of the upgrade is to create "a welcoming experience for everybody who participates in activities at PRFC, be it customers or volunteers or partners. Driving around craters to get to our door is not welcoming at all!" The old parking lot was also a nightmare to plow and dust from gravel patches was terrible for all sorts of reasons.
PRFC Delivery Driver Rod Willey (the person who undoubtedly drives in and out the most) said the improvements, from a practical standpoint, allow PRFC to handle the food we move with greater care--no more jostled crates or pallets! "This community is being served beautifully by Good Shepherd," said Rod. "People from the community and we here at PRFC are able to move in and out without feeling like we are on the landscape of the moon.”