Sunday, October 9, 2011

Working in Food Supply

This winter, I worked in the Supply department as a food materialsperson with my colleague Gareth. Together we managed four warehouses; building 164 is the freezer, building 176 is the dry goods warehouse (without any temperature control), building 120 is the heated warehouse for foods that can't be frozen, and building 341 holds the non-food kitchen supplies (also without any temperature control). Food materialspersons are known colloquially as "food monkeys", a moniker which comes from the fact that we do a whole lot of climbing on crates and pallets to dig out food items for the kitchen. Each Tuesday, the kitchen places a food order for the following week, and the food monkeys pull the food on Wednesday and deliver it on Thursday. At the end of August, Landon joined us for Winfly, the transitional season between winter and summer. Last summer, he served as the lead food monkey, and he has returned for another summer season. While Gareth and I will be leaving during the next week or so, Landon and three other new food monkeys will be working the food warehouses for the summer.

Landon climbs up between crate stacks to retrieve some items higher up. This is one of two tall, narrow aisles in 164 that we refer to as the "crevasses".

Crates can be climbed from the front as well. While it isn't without risk, there are lots of footholds and handholds to provide support.

At the top of the freezer, food is pulled through the top of the crates. Removing the lids can be painful on the knees and if a crate is full, pulling up a big box of food in a kneeling position can be stressful on the back. Once a crate gets half empty or so, we can climb into it and get the food out more easily.

A view of one of the food aisles from the top of the freezer. The boxes on the floor have been pulled by Gareth for the kitchen. After all food is pulled, it is stacked on pallets to be delivered.

For the most part, the crates are evenly stacked and stable to walk on, but every now and then we find a loose one. :)

Here is the hole created by the removal of the single crate of bacon at the beginning of winter. Gareth and I refer to this as "Shelob's Lair" and we've both fallen into it at least once. Fortunately neither of us has been hurt. :)

A pile of boxes pulled for the kitchen. Notice how close to the ceiling this food is. I've hit my head a few times on the various crossbeams in the freezer.

Food that's been pulled and is ready to be palletized. 

Landon checks the warehouse map for an item that isn't in the location that it's supposed to be. The ice ship on the left is from the mid-winter dinner party.

Taking a break on top of a pallet of flour.

Gareth was thoroughly entertained by the fact that the eraser end of a pencil would stick to his neck gaiter once it had become covered with frozen condensation.

Landon stacks a pallet of dry goods in boxes. In building 176, we usually create a pallet of bags (flour, sugar, etc., seen in the background) and a pallet of boxes.

In building 120, we use the forklift to get to food items that are buried under other pallets.

Oil, fry shortening, tomato sauce, and mayonnaise are some of the items kept in the heated food warehouse.

During the winter, Gareth found a gap between several pallets that made for a good rest spot during breaks. Plastic bubble shipping material is surprisingly comfortable!

Gareth uses the loader to take this crate from the freezer dock to the galley dock.

Sometimes the food monkeys provide support to other departments. During the winter Gareth and I audited both the station store warehouse and the beverage warehouse. It's possible that in the near future, we will become more involved with these other warehouses, but how much so remains to be seen.

Landon and Gareth working on an audit in the beverage warehouse.

I've had a great time working in food supply and I've already signed a contract to come back next winter. I can't wait! (But I do need a vacation first...) :)

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