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Help comes from all over

copingcraig3Working for The Produce News has provided me the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people within the produce industry. Up until a month ago, for the great majority that I met, it was clearly obviously how much they enjoyed and cared about what they were doing.

Then the National Basketball Association suspended operations due to COVID-19. Soon after the country would slowly shut down in an effort to slow the curve and keep Americans safe. I have since discovered that not only do the people within the produce industry care so much about what they do, they care just as much about who they do it for.

I have covered the food industry for almost 20 years, and never has the entire industry come together like it has in the past month. Every day I receive different ways this company or that company is doing its part to help some segment of society to better cope with COVID-19.

Some are grandiose, such as Driscoll’s providing $4 million in global funds across health clinics, food banks, fresh berry donations and other community resources. Other are more localized, such as Grimmway Farms donating fresh carrots to support Kern County residents and California food banks or Sunkist Growers donating lemons to hospitals in the Santa Clara area.

Here is today’s look at what just some are doing to ease the suffering during COVID-19:

• HF Foods donated 400 tons of fruits and vegetables to food banks within North Carolina, Georgia and Florida in the past two weeks. The company has also donated masks and gloves to hospitals near its Los Angeles operations center. HF Foods has also been serving as a temporary supply source for local grocers whose regular supply chains have been interrupted by coronavirus-related public health measures.

“We want to help our neighbors in any way we can in this difficult time,” said Joann Lam, president of HF Foods subsidiary Han Feng, Inc. and one of the founders of HF Foods Group. “The company is glad to have been able to donate more than a half million dollars’ worth of food to support the local nonprofit agencies in their distribution to families in need.”

• The Giant Co. will limit the number of customers in its stores as part of ongoing efforts to support social distancing practices and provide a safe shopping environment for both customers and team members. The company has also requested that customers limit the size of their shopping party to one member per household as much as possible, as doing so reduces the overall number of people inside stores and helps support social distancing.

•  Wakefern Food Corp. will implement a temperature monitoring program. As part of the initiative, stores will use Non-contact Forehead Infrared Thermometers to take the temperature of associates and vendors as they arrive for work. Any person with an elevated temperature will be sent home. Wakefern plans to roll out temperature monitoring at all its stores, as well as its warehouses.

“These are extraordinary times and we are committed to protecting our associates and customers as we keep our stores open to serve our communities,” said Joe Colalillo, chairman and CEO of Wakefern Food Corp. “We are closely monitoring the fast-moving COVID-19 emergency and all new recommendations and CDC protocols, and using that information to guide our decisions. We are proud of our hard-working associates and doing everything we can to support them and keep them safe as they work on the front lines of this public health crisis.”

• Stater Bros. Markets has extended the $2/hr. wage incentive for all hours worked for all of the company’s hourly employees that work in the stores, distribution, transportation, corporate offices, and construction through Sunday, May 3, 2020.

“The spirit of the Stater Bros. ‘Family’ has always been to do the right thing, for the right reason,” said Stater Bros. CEO Pete Van Helden. “Our employees remain committed to helping our community during this difficult period. Many continue to work long hours to ensure the service to our customers remains uninterrupted. We are proud of our team and appreciate their extraordinary efforts in supporting our customers and communities.”  

At some point COVID-19 will be a thing of the past, and because of the actions of so many, the country will be far better off than it could have been.

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