Food Fella: Campbell’s rewards frontline employees, donates amid COVID-19 crisis

By Damon Riccio
New Jersey | Apr 13, 2020 at 2:50 pm
Food Fella

As the food industry continues moving forward in such unprecedented times, many frontline production workers at Camden-based Campbell Soup Co. are and have been working to ensure food is readily available across North America. In recognition of the critical role these employees play in the company’s success, CEO Mark Clouse shared plans to increase support of these teams.

Here’s Clouse’s letter to all employees:

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the heroic efforts of our teams at our manufacturing plants, distribution centers and in-store field-based sales, as they work to ensure our neighbors have food during this critical time. As we ask our people to step up to the challenge of meeting the increased demand for food, it’s only right that we reward and recognize the critical role they are playing in maintaining the North American food supply.

“Today, Campbell is announcing new support for our teams doing mission-critical work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • A $2 per hour premium payment for hourly employees at all Campbell production facilities and distribution centers.
  • A $100 per week premium payment for front-line supervisors, certain site staff and depot managers who are reporting to work as essential infrastructure workers. This incentive also includes employees who oversee the company’s sales execution teams that are in stores and working with customers and independent distributors to ensure that store shelves are stocked.

“These premium payments will be extended to approximately 11,000 front-line team members who make, sell and distribute products to retail customers across the country. These temporary benefits, implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be in place for at least five weeks beginning March 29.

Campbell Soup Co. CEO Mark Clouse.

“These actions are in addition to a number of steps Campbell has already taken to ensure the well-being and safety of our teams, including protocols for identifying potential employee exposure, quarantines, enhanced cleaning procedures and health screenings across our manufacturing network. Campbell has also implemented policies to help manufacturing and distribution employees who may be out of work due to caregiving or health-related issues related to the coronavirus, including mitigation plans to bridge income if necessary.

“Thank you again to these teams for their dedication in these unprecedented times.”

Also very noteworthy are Campbell’s donations on March 16, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company announced it will donate $1 million in cash and food to food banks and local pantries in its 33 hometowns. Campbell’s recognizes how much help is needed now more than ever as the communities in which the company operates in adapt to the crisis and manage both the social and economic impact of the pandemic. The funds will feed people across the country, from near its chip factory in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and offices in Tualatin, Oregon, to its meals and beverages plant in Napoleon, Ohio, and dozens of towns in between.

Through this commitment, it can provide direct financial support to local food banks, pantries or community organizations in 33 locations across the country. The funding is critically important, as these organizations work to quickly shift the way they operate from direct feeding to mobile pantries, meal delivery and other approaches dictated by the crisis.

“The increased need for shelf-stable food has been a consistent request from food banks in the wake of this pandemic. We’ll continue to work with them to determine which products are most needed and dedicate production runs to meet their needs,” said Kim Fortunato, vice president of community affairs and president of the Campbell Soup Foundation.

Additionally, shipments of food donations will arrive to the Feeding America food bank network in these same areas as well as other local pantries or feeding programs.

Here at home in New Jersey, Campbell’s recently began distributing funds and/or food to the following organizations:

Along with providing food for its neighbors nationwide, it has committed $100,000 to the Camden City School District in Camden, home of its world headquarters since 1869. The funds will provide all students at six public high schools with laptops for remote learning, a resource that’s critical in keeping students engaged and connected while at home.

We all applaud these efforts by Campbell Soup Co. to support the needs of its employees and the communities it operates in at this extremely vulnerable time in our nation’s history.

Conversation Starter

To learn more about Campbell Soup Co.’s COVID-19 relief efforts go to: campbellsoupcompany.com or 800-257-8443.

Grocery workers hailed as ‘mission critical’ by Gov. Murphy

As New Jerseyans and the whole country fight to survive through this national health crisis, it becomes more evident how quickly our perspectives on life can change to what’s important and where true dedication can be found.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy uttered those sentiments as he produced a video to express his appreciation to grocery store workers, whom he considers “a vital part of our frontline emergency response team.”

Gov. Phil Murphy

Murphy acknowledged the hard work and long hours of everyone working in grocery stores, from the employees on the loading docks to those who are stocking shelves. He also recognized the cashiers and the workers who bring the groceries out to the car for seniors who need the extra help.

“I know this time can be hard on you, professionally and personally,” Murphy said in the 75-second video, adding that he is doing his best to ensure workplace safety during the COVID-19 outbreak. “You are not far from my mind.”

The governor noted that he may be considered the face of New Jersey, but to countless residents, grocery store workers are “mission critical,” a key to getting the state through this emergency. 

“I can’t thank you enough,” Murphy said, urging workers to remain dedicated to the job for the difficult weeks ahead.

Linda Doherty, CEO and president of the New Jersey Food Council, expressed appreciation to the governor for producing this inspiring message for our local industry that collectively generates more than 1 million jobs to feed the people of the state.

Linda Doherty

“We are thankful Gov. Murphy has taken this special opportunity to acknowledge the vital role of the grocery worker in our lifeline industry,” she said. “It is so critical at this moment for our dedicated workforce to know they are appreciated for their tireless efforts to keep this lifeline open for New Jersey residents.

“We hope New Jersey consumers follow the governor’s lead and thank our grocery store workers, truckers, stockers and cashiers,” she added.

As a former grocery employee through my college years and beyond, I feel proud to have worked in the retail food industry. I understand the sometime thankless job it can be to diligently stock shelves and build displays, order products, deliver to stores, manage employees and schedules, clean all kinds of equipment, and handle customer service — just some of the tasks in this fast-paced environment. 

We all salute you! Continue to do the great job you’re doing and stay safe through this critical time!

Read more from ROI-NJ on coronavirus:

Damon Riccio | driccio@roi-nj.com | @damonriccio