The food industry has a large presence in Minnesota and a major player in the state is Hormel Foods, which produces some of the most well-known food brands in the world including the SPAM® family of products, Dinty Moore® beef stew, SKIPPY® peanut butter products and Jennie-O® turkey products. This global Fortune 500 company employs nearly 20,000 people around the world and has been creative and strategic in its response to COVID-19 while ensuring its team members feel comfortable and confident to keep America fed.
Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods, has been a long-time partner with Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) in supporting families in need. SWIF administers the Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc. Crisis Assistance Relief Effort (CARE) Fund, which supports immediate needs and provides financial assistance to team members of Jennie-O Turkey Store and their families in the event of undue financial hardship as a result of certain crises and emergencies.
Kandiyohi County, where Willmar is located, has had 779 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far, and one person has died from it, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health.
“Jennie-O Turkey Story has a long-standing culture of Safety First when it comes to food safety and team member safety. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we immediately implemented processes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep COVID-19 out of our facilities and our communities,” said Melanie Faust, Jennie-O Turkey Store Vice President of Human Resources.
Hormel Foods partnered with leading health and safety experts on best practices to implement at its plants. This included personal protective equipment (face masks and shields) and plexiglass for physical barriers between employees on the line, as well as increased cleaning and disinfection and financial support.
“The health and well-being of our team members is our highest priority and we implemented a special COVID pay program to encourage employees to speak up and stay home if they were feeling unwell. This program minimized any financial burden an employee would face from being away from work if they felt ill,” Melanie said.
Emphasizing that what employees do outside of work is just as important as what they do while at work, Hormel Foods developed the KEEP COVID OUT! campaign. At keepcovidout.org, communities and employers can access printed materials, videos and other resources in up to 12 languages that make it easy to convey the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in any community and why it’s important. The company has made these campaign materials available for public use to help stop the spread of the virus everywhere. Materials include handouts detailing how to safely carpool, quarantine guidelines and proper mask wearing and care.
These targeted, workplace-specific prevention strategies are critical to reducing COVID-19–associated health disparities among vulnerable populations, according to the CDC. The multilingual KEEP COVID OUT! campaign offers valuable resources for communicating ways to stay safe for everyone in our communities. Anyone is welcome to download campaign materials at keepcovidout.org.