Jessika Lyn Magofna, left, and daughter Micki Magofna.

Jessika Lyn Magofna, a 35-year-old mother of five, has worked every day since last Wednesday. She’s a shift manager at Future Foods, a small grocery store in Mechanic Falls, and said her small-town grocery story has been holding the line as more and more shoppers stock up on supplies in the wake of COVID-19. Here’s life from her perspective these days.

What brought you to Future Foods? Do you enjoy your work? I grew up in Mechanic Falls, left for the military, came back and bought a house here. It’s my home town and love raising my kids here. I needed a job close to home because my kids are involved in many extra-curricular activities and needed to be close if they needed rides. I love my job, but mostly the community atmosphere. I’ve got PTS from my deployment while in the Army, so the small-town store is comforting to me. I love the relationships we have with our loyal customers, but also love the family feeling we have with our employees.

And with the current situation, we have really come together to be able to serve our community as well as the non locals who have had to reach out to us for their grocery needs.

As COVID-19 has escalated in severity, how has Future Foods adapted to mandates from the state? We have put red tape on the floors, every six feet. We have a marked spot in front of our deli, so only one person can order at a time. We’ve placed plexiglass on registers for customer and cashier safety. We are limiting 15 customers in store at any time. We are wiping carts and baskets as soon as returned to designated spots. We have hand sanitizer at all registers. We are offering to shop for our elderly customers, and they pay over the phone. They pop their trunks so we know where to bring the groceries. We do this and they never have to have contact with anyone.

Overall our store is remaining stocked except the toilet paper, which sells out daily. Other than that, morale among employees is great, and our customers have been wonderful and understanding.

I’d imagine everyone in the store is incredibly busy right now. Have people been patient with the increased workload and situation? We have a few new cashiers that are home from college, so they’ve stepped up (they were employees before). The first week was rough due to some employees that were immune compromised. Things have definitely settled down as far as having to cover shifts. We take care of each other. . . . As a close-knit store, we are all doing our best, and making the best out of an extraordinary situation. We joke, make jokes, and just drink an energy drink if needed.

Has the tight-knit community between employees and customers at Future Foods made dealing with COVID-19 any easier? I believe (being) a tight community both within our store among our employees and among our customers has made it a lot easier. These people in our community haven’t fallen into the hoarding of things, they are shopping for neighbors, to limit exposure for all of us. They are very understanding with all the new changes, and even with the 15 (person limit) in the store, we’ve not had to have anyone waiting in the rain. I believe our community as a whole is taking the COVID-19 seriously, but at the same time we are still able to joke about it, to keep the stress of it all to a minimal. Our employees are all working together, and supporting each other when one of us is having an anxious day. We have a really great team.

As this COVID-19 situation stretches out further, what are you/the store preparing for? We are taking this day by day, thinking of different ways to keep it (COVID-19) out of our community, and always thinking of ways to keep our store safe. We’re not sure what to prepare for, as none of us have ever experienced anything like this before. We have faith that people will take this seriously, and hope that it doesn’t get worse than what it is.

What should people remember as they come in to do shopping? I believe people should be mindful of the six-foot rule. If people could remember to be kind, remember that less people out and about means less chance of exposure. Remember, call a neighbor or family member who may need something and pick it up for them. Less people, more checking in, loving thy neighbor equals a better outcome for all things in life. Less exposure, but taking care of each other in bad times, means better relationships in the good times. And never forget we are all this together!

Last question: Is pepperoni bread still being made? Yes, it’s being made fresh every day, but get in early . . . it’s been going fast!

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