Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

A Day That's like an Old-Time Barn Raising

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

A Day That's like an Old-Time Barn Raising

Article excerpt

"We are the 'Amazing Portable Oklahoma Food Cooperative,' "Bob Waldrop said, referring to the way the monthly deliveries to customers are accomplished every third Thursday of the month, when the co-op's network of volunteers comes together to bring products from farmers and local processors all over Oklahoma and distribute them to customers at 22 delivery locations around the state.

"For years our monthly deliveries were done in a cramped hallway at the family center building of my church. Oklahoma State University now lets us use the Horticulture Pavilion at its Oklahoma City campus. They let us use the pavilion for free but we are about to get a permanent location, a fixer-upper warehouse."

The monthly delivery day begins at 8 a.m. in the empty pavilion. The large space is soon filled with a hundred or more rented tables. Volunteers begin cleaning 250 coolers, filling them with either ice for product that needs to kept cold or dry ice for meats and other foods that need to remain frozen. The coolers are placed under the tables. Invoices are laid out. Thousands of items will be sorted into several hundred orders.

Midmorning the producers begin arriving, and 75 volunteers help unload, sort and distribute the products to tables tagged for the delivery points. Each product coming into the central sorting location is labeled with the name of the producer, the name of the customer, what the product is, and a delivery code that directs it to one of the delivery locations around the state.

Each route and pickup site has a volunteer in charge. At 2 p.m., volunteers load trucks for delivery to the various pickup sites. By 5 p.m. the pavilion is empty once again and the tables returned to the rental warehouse.

Waldrop said: "We have volunteers invest their time and effort as sweat equity in growing the future of a commonly owned business."


Volunteers get $7 per hour in credit, which they can use to buy from the co-op's producers. …

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