Operating in a Pandemic


Operating in a Pandemic


Piscataquis Regional Food Center blog post describing the changes in operations due to COVID-19.







Piscataquis Regional Food Center


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My office view and sounds are unique today. This is the third or fourth week I've been in this space since Covid19 ushered everyone to work remotely. On many levels, our distribution operations are running "normally". The "normal" includes all pre-boxed food, lots of masks and gloves in the mix and keeping in mind that most of our community-based, group intensive programs like Garden in a Box and Cooking for Spice Drive have been paused... The work is getting done, and the food is definitely still moving. However, on several levels, this still feels surreal.

I am sitting in a newly painted office at a folding table, admiring the new blue hue painted by friends of the Food Center. The white-board calendar listing our distributions and deliveries is propped up on a chair, and a projector is in place of the coat rack that used to be there. This is very clearly a space that's in transition. Very clearly, we are all operating under the swells and heaves of transition amid this pandemic. Yet there are signs of this work also feeling...normal. Even though the calendar is perched on a chair, not yet hung, it's filled out until October. Even though I check the voicemail from my cellphone, I still receive and follow through with messages. Even though I'm usually here alone, we still Covid19-style-greet the occasional neighbor seeking food assistance when they happen to stop by.

When I began writing this last week, it was the first morning we had our new FarmShare for Homebound Seniors assistant Monica in, and our long-time volunteer Roxy.

Roxy was situated in Erin's unfurnished office with another folding table. Monica sat at the farthest end of the room. We quickly realized that calling our seniors, some of whom are hard of hearing, wouldn't work while wearing masks. A realization that is so very novel, like much of what is being adjusted and learned about during this pandemic.

It became very clear that masks wouldn't work when one senior repeatedly asked me if I was selling seat covers while I tried to communicate the prices of cucumbers! So, we adjusted. Roxy and Monica moved into separate rooms. I kept my mask on and continued my work.

From where I was situated, I could hear Roxy's infectious laugh as she re-connected with seniors she hadn't spoken to since last season. Monica deftly updated our brand new (and a little beta) Database so the farm produce inventory would be accurate.

"Some of the ladies remembered me! " I could hear Roxy exclaim.

Some things haven't change, even as each of us tries to understand how to do what is needed. Human connection, though formed now more than ever over the phone or computer, still exists.

We'll be sharing more about our new database, developed by Steve, in the coming weeks. It's truly a wonderful tool, even with the tweaks and bumps to smooth out. It serves as a micro-reminder of the macro-theme I've noticed during this pandemic; how to change and adjust accordingly to new information, new situations and very, very unexpected obstacles. Challenges for sure. But I think that resilience is the force that stems from the friction of challenge. I have to believe community builds together when we can support one another navigating new and unexpected difficulties.

When I next write a reflective #FoodCenterFriday I hope to share even more progress on the other side of what can feel challenging.

Until next time,


Original Format



Piscataquis Regional Food Center and Schoen, Merrilee, “Operating in a Pandemic,” Heart of Maine Community Stories, accessed May 19, 2024, https://heartofmaine.omeka.net/items/show/132.

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