Ever wonder how food gets from the farm to your table? Oklahoma Food Cooperative Operations Manager Adam Price gives us a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes on delivery day.
Since my involvement with the Oklahoma Food Cooperative began in late 2008, the delivery process has always been a multi-day event – with preparations and setup the day before and cleanup the day after. However, that has especially been the case since we moved to the Farmers Market District in downtown Oklahoma City in November 2012. Instead of a single warehouse building like we had prior to 2012, our monthly delivery is now housed in two separate buildings. In addition to our roughly 4,000 square foot warehouse/office building at 1305 SW 2nd St. that we occupy on a full time basis, we also gain access to the first floor of the historic Farmers Public Market building at 311 S. Klein Ave. for the days immediately surrounding our monthly delivery date.
For all intents and purposes, we move into an empty room in the downstairs of the Farmers Public Market on the Wednesday before delivery to prepare to receive local food from all over the state the following day.
Our volunteer crew sets up folding tables and hauls all of our coolers and supplies from one building to the other.
Later in the afternoon on Wednesday, we finalize the setup process, then receive more than 1,000 pounds of dry ice to safely deliver all of our frozen meat orders the following day.
Of course, on the third Thursday of the month is when most of the action happens, and all of the farmers and producers come to town with their products in tow. Our volunteer crew checks in each Producer to verify their orders have been filled properly. After that, the products are packaged into coolers/containers by pick-up site location. Although the sorting process is not the most strenuous work in the world, it is certainly an active process! Some volunteers wearing pedometers have reported walking many miles over the course of a day volunteering with the Coop, so volunteering on delivery day is a great way to get some exercise and help our local farmers!
Steve Nicklas from Crack of Dawn Farm checking in his eggs during October delivery day.
Paulette Rink from Rowdy Stickhorse checking in frozen goods during October delivery day.
Of course, after the products come in, it’s all got to go back out again to the pickup locations! During the afternoon on Thursday, our volunteers switch gears from sorting food to loading full coolers and containers onto trucks and trailers for it to be sent to nearly 50 pickup locations we have all over the state.
A small group of volunteers reconvene on the Friday morning (following delivery day) to do the final cleanup and make sure all coolers and equipment make it back to our warehouse for safe keeping until the next delivery day…when we do it all again!
Nearly all the food we handle through the Oklahoma Food Cooperative goes from farm to table in roughly 12 hours on our monthly delivery day, and it takes a small army of dedicated “Oklavores” to make that happen! During the three work days in Oklahoma City, we have 30-40 volunteers to help with the setup/sorting/loading/cleanup process, and then 50-60 more drivers and pick-up site volunteers who help deliver food and meet all of our members at each location.
I would like to end with thanking all of our hard-working and dedicated volunteers who show up month after month and keep our Cooperative literally rolling down the road! During delivery week, we work hard, we eat well and we get to gather together with a group of like-minded individuals to pitch in for a cause we all believe in!
If you would like to know more about volunteering for the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, you can email me at email@example.com for more information.