Written by: Sarah Novak | April 17, 2020
The headlines across the news and social media are daunting. They range from people needing help feeding their families and pets to medical and first responders calling for more personal protective equipment (PPE) so that they can stay safe while caring for others. Did you know, the U.S. animal food industry is working in many areas to help others during these tough times? Are you wondering how you or your company can help during the novel coronavirus pandemic? Below are a few examples from around the industry and ideas to consider.
Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in Kentucky is using its supply of alcohol to make and donate much-needed hand sanitizer to city and state leaders fighting the COVID-19 epidemic. Biofuels producer POET was able to enhance the existing capabilities of its plants to create an all-natural, ethanol-based sanitizer product that will help alleviate the needs of high-risk groups, including assisted living facilities and hospitals, in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, area. Meanwhile, Texas Farm Products donated 400 N-95 respirators to its local call centers and COVID testing sites, Animal Science Products donated face shields for emergency workers and Cargill donated PPE to the medical community worldwide.
Other AFIA member companies, including ADM, are pledging millions to various organizations, including the United Nations Foundation’s “COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization” and various regional and local charities involved in COVID-19 relief and mitigation. ADM is also providing grants to employees facing financial hardships through its Colleague Emergency Fund.
Companies are also picking up the tab to keep Americans fed. For instance, Smithfield Foods launched the Good Food Challenge, donating millions in cash and in-kind donations – such as 4 million servings of protein – and inviting the public to support them in their efforts to provide up to 10 million meals to Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks. Kalmbach Feeds will donate one meal to Feeding America for every bag of Kalmbach Feed sold. Smithfield Foods also donated funds to the Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), which supports food and beverage service industry employees and their families in need following a COVID-19 diagnosis, through #TheGreatAmericanTakeout social media campaign.
Tyson Foods is committed to serving the local communities where its plants operate by donating 4 million pounds in protein products and community grants. Grants will go toward nonprofits providing emergency response efforts, such as rent and utility assistance, food distribution, healthcare, childcare, small business support and other economic recovery services. It is also bolstering its Helping Hands program, which supports employees facing financial hardship.
Foster Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride and Perdue Farms pledged their support to food banks and community organizations in the communities where they operate by way of donating millions of pounds of protein to those in need. Cargill’s Kansas City team made two monetary donations to Harvesters Food Network and Hope Faith Ministries, both local to their area. To show their gratitude, Western Milling donated 300 breakfast meals to their local healthcare professionals and the WM employees and families wrote letters with heartfelt messages to add some positivity to their days.
Elanco Animal Health launched the Elanco Foundation, which is pledging to fight rising food insecurity challenges in communities where it operates. In Indiana, where the company is headquartered, it is leading a coalition to raise over a million dollars to feed 10,000 families with children in the Indianapolis Public School System for eight weeks, where roughly four in five children struggle with having enough food to eat at home. In addition, Elanco Animal Health donated viral transport media to a local COVID testing center in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The viral transport media is a preservative solution that keeps a virus active until it can be tested, so that patients obtain more accurate test results to determine if they are infected with COVID-19.
Mountaire Farms donated 40,000 pounds of chicken to the Delaware Food Bank, another 30,000 pounds of chicken to food pantries and the Boys and Girls Clubs and 44,000 pounds to employees at two local hospitals. In addition, it has discounted chicken for employees and those shopping at select retailers in the area. Ardent Mills donated flour as part of a partnership with Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli to give away bread at various locations from California to Maine.
Companies are also looking for opportunities to divert food products intended for use by other industries, such as travel. For example, with the decreases in cruise ships sailing out of Florida, Cargill Protein donated 10,000 pounds of frozen beef, pork and chicken to food banks in the Florida Keys.
Our members are also finding ways to give back to the nation’s pets, who are providing so much comfort and solace while we adjust to a life of social distancing. Hill’s Pet Nutrition is donating pet food to pantry partners, animal shelters and other nonprofits caring for pets through its Food, Shelter & Love program, Disaster Relief Network and in conjunction with some of its animal welfare partners. Other members, such as Greenies, Merrick, Nature’s Variety and Wellpet, have taken a different approach – offering discounted prices on pet food and treats, and the amount that is discounted is donated to COVID-19 relief efforts. This is a win-win situation, allowing people to benefit from more affordable pet food, while supporting the efforts to curtail this deadly outbreak.
These activities are in addition to our industry’s “hometown heroes,” team members who are giving back in other ways to support the country’s COVID-19 relief efforts - from donating blood, to volunteering to support ambulatory efforts, to delivering groceries to the elderly, to providing pet food to people who have lost their jobs, and more.
These philanthropic examples are just a snapshot of the work the animal food industry is doing to support the needs of their local communities, employees and customers during this unprecedented time. If your company is supporting COVID-19 relief efforts, please feel free to share that with us via the comments section below. Thank you all for your service – both to the animal food industry and the communities where you live. We will get through this together!