The sun is burning off the remaining clouds and it looks like it will be a glorious Saturday in Rochester- and that means a busy day at the Rochester Public Market. Flower City Pickers resumed operations after an eight-week self-imposed suspension to deal with and manage the COVID 19 epidemic. After much planning and many meetings we developed a plan to help keep our volunteers safe. After that, we needed to tackle how to best serve the agencies that have come to rely on our produce deliveries at a time when we could not function normally.
With the help of Lori’s Natural Foods, Monroe Community Collaborative and the House of Mercy, we developed and implemented a plan to continue to provide shares of food to those in need without compromising safety for the two months we did not collect food at the Public Market. Lori’s Natural Foods has been a very gracious donor, and we hope that the goodwill they pay forward will continue. We value our relationships with all our donors, and we want to express our gratitude to all the employees there - especially G, who has dealt with numerous emails and phone calls to help facilitate this.
While we missed the Market and it’s seemingly abundant supply of produce, our operations (as they existed) were not safe in the Corona Virus world. Our folksy, feel good, ‘everyone huddled together outdoors under a small 10x10 tent to keep warm’ -in the often subzero temperatures of Rochester - just wouldn’t cut it during the pandemic. We relied on disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer to keep us clean in the rugged environment of the Public Market. We knew immediately that we would change our operations structure, but we needed a plan.
Fast forward: With the help of a Facebook fundraiser, we raised $1500 to purchase new tables, portable hand washing stations, and other operations supplies that were not budgeted for. The tables will provide the physical distance that is necessary for our volunteers to be able to work without being directly next to each other. Our Development Director created two portable hand washing stations that will be used by the volunteers. We have a safety briefing at the beginning of each Operation, and a designated on site Safety Officer that oversees and helps to remedy any issues that may come up. Volunteers will be shown how to correctly don PPE (put on and take off gloves and wash their hands, as well as how to properly wear a mask).
Flower City Pickers is dedicated to providing food to those in need and helping to prevent food waste. Despite the obstacles put in front of us, we have been able to have a small impact on the hunger crisis that is happening all over the country. If you know of an organization that could benefit from a share each week, please have them contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you know of an individual or family who is food insecure and could use a hand during this time, please have them reach out to us and we can help get them the resources they need.
All of us at Flower City Pickers are committed to our mission. Please stay safe and be kind to others. Show courtesy and respect to all those who are working in essential capacities to keep us safe. Wear a mask when in public, wash your hands, and respect physical distancing guidelines.