It is probably fair to say that most people do not find infrastructure (buildings, trucks, pallet jacks, shelving, etc.) very interesting. This is understandable because it’s much more interesting to talk about getting food to homebound seniors, healthier food for kids, greater access to local produce, etc. However, infrastructure determines what can be practically done. The bigger and bolder the goals are, the better the infrastructure needs to be to make them possible.
Two universal truths are nothing is truly free and you get what you pay for. Otherwise unused basements or back rooms with hard working volunteers can only do so much. It is as unfair as it is impractical to ask them to do more, yet with our region’s deeply entrenched food insecurity issues more is absolutely needed if we are to make significant improvements for the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. PRFC was created to provide the tools (infrastructure) needed to get going on those bigger things. This short blog will give you a little peek into where things stand now.
The most basic element of PRFC is our building, because without that we’d not be able to do much of anything. Our building provides us with a large climate controlled warehouse area, 1000sf of kitchen/food processing, a 12x12 walk-in freezer, a 14x28 walk-in refrigerator, and offices. We even recently acquired a 36’ long refrigerated semi-trailer to handle overflow needs, most likely during the harvest season.
Aside from the space dedicated for its own needs, a significant portion of the building for the home of the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard. This great organization not only has enough room to operate food distributions for 100+ people at a time, but they also have use of warehouse, freezer, refrigeration, and kitchen/processing space as needed. When the pandemic hit they had the space to expand and that allowed them to concentrate on new procedures to get more food out to people safely and quickly.
One of the unsung heroes of this entire PRFC concept is our loading dock! With this we are able to take a full 53’ tractor trailer backed right up to our building, which makes unloading thousands of pounds of food at one time rather easy. This is why a loading dock and maneuver room for the truck was a non-negotiable “must have” feature when we started looking for a building to set up shop in.
Speaking of trucks, this month we reached our long term goal of acquiring a small delivery van for our more personalized programming (such as Homebound Senior food deliveries) and a refrigerated truck for moving pallets from here to there. Now that we have a truck we will soon take in 45,000 pounds of food at a time and move it anywhere it is needed. Additionally, we can pick up food that otherwise wouldn’t come to us.
You might be asking yourself, how has a homegrown grassroots organization been able to afford all this stuff? Good question! Some of it was purchased using grants from various governmental sources, but most of the financial support has come from private foundations that share our mission to improve healthy food access for our people. Direct donations from regular people and local businesses have also had a huge impact on moving things along. We’ve also been fortunate to have businesses donate at least $100,000 worth of used equipment, materials, and discounted labor. Last, but not least, thousands of volunteer hours of work and very thrifty purchases from auctions meant there was a ton of money we never needed to find. It is pretty safe to say PRFC would not exist without the generosity of all these groups and individuals.
Obviously there’s a lot more I could talk about, but I think this is enough to give you some understanding of what PRFC’s infrastructure is and why it will help our community access more healthy food now and in the years to come.