Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Polar Vortex …
It seemed like the world stopped during the frigid cold of the recent polar vortex, but Second Harvest Heartland Transportation Coordinator Paul Jansen and Food Rescue Fleet Manager Rainey Dahm, along with many members of their team, were still hard at work. Despite the dangerous temperatures, Jansen and Dahm spent the majority of Wednesday, Jan. 30, and Thursday, Jan. 31, preparing Second Harvest Heartland’s fleet of trucks for deliveries. It was the first time Second Harvest Heartland was forced to shut down operations due to extremely cold temperatures, according to Director of Transportation Paul Jacobs.
“The road conditions were just treacherous,” Jacobs said. “In my 14 years at Second Harvest Heartland, I have never seen weather like it.”
Diesel fuel becomes gelatinous in extremely low temperatures, and as a result, trucks don’t start.
“Once fuel is gelled, you need to replace the fuel filter,” explained Jacobs. “The longer a truck sits in the cold, the harder it is to start. Since the extreme temperatures affected several states, the service network we rely on reached capacity very quickly. Not only did our service providers not have the staff to respond to so many break downs, they also ran out of fuel filters.”
Employee safety is always priority number one, so when the weather takes a turn for the worst like it’s done the past few days, Jacobs keeps a close eye on the forecast. Should a driver not be able to complete his or her route safely, Jacobs is quick to act.
“We watch all the routes closely, especially the routes in greater Minnesota,” he explained. “We have an extensive network of service providers in case of a breakdown, who are ready to respond quickly to any situation that arises.”
Transportation employees weren’t the only ones who braved the cold to continue to provide service to our partners. Agency Service Coordinators Amanda Holvig, Ian Voels and Sophie Ball, and Agency Relations Manager Roshandra Brown, spent the day calling partner agencies and food pantries one by one to reschedule their deliveries.
Once the dangerously cold temperatures had subsided, Food Rescue drivers were back on the road. On Friday, Feb. 1., drivers rescued twice the amount they usually do in a day—approximately 120,000 pounds of food—to distribute to the agency partners and food pantries who feed our neighbors experiencing hunger.